The other day I was strolling through the Crate and Barrel Outlet when I saw French Onion Soup Crocks for $1.99.  I had to pick up a couple.  Since then I have been on the hunt for a tasty French Onion Soup recipe.  Most called for cooking the onion over the stove-top until they were caramelized and tasty.  But after finding this version from Cookography via Cook’s Illustrated I had to make it.  This version roasts the onions in the oven to help build a nice complex flavor.  It is extremely tasty.

French Onion Soup

Topped with homemade croutons and Provolone Cheese this was the best French Onion Soup I have ever had.

French Onion Soup – (From Cookography via Cook’s Illustrated)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces
  • 6 large sweet yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices (Sweet Yellow Onions)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme , tied with kitchen twine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 small baguette
  • 8 slices Provolone Cheese

Roasting the Onions

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Generously spray the inside of a heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with a nonstick cooking spray. I use an enamel coated cast iron pan, but use any heavy bottom dutch oven that you have.  If the inside of your pan is not non-stick, make sure to use a little extra cooking spray.

Place the butter in the pot and add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, for 1 hour (the onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume).

Roast the onions with the butter

Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until the onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring the onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.

Roasted Onions

  • I know that the roasting of the onions takes forever, but it adds great flavor.  For this reason, you may want to roast the onions ahead of time.  The onions can be prepared up to this point, cooled in the pot, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe.

Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Make sure to use pot holders as the pan will be scorching hot.  Cook the onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if the onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust, roughly 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary. (Scrape any of the brown bits that stick to the bottom of the pot (AKA “fond”)  back into onions.)

The Fond

Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping the pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in the dry white wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the wine evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the beef and chicken broth, 2 cups of water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot.

Add the Broth

Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

Making the Croutons

While the soup simmers, slice the baguette into 1/2 inch slices.  Then arrange the baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10-12 minutes. Flip the bread halfway through the cooking to allow for even browning.  Set aside and let cool.


To serve:

Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler to high. Place oven-safe crocks or ramekins on baking sheet and fill each 3/4 full with soup.

Soup with croutons

Top each bowl with  2 baguette slices and cover with a slice of provolone cheese.

Top with Provolone

Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool for a couple of minutes before serving.  If you serve it right away the cheese is like napalm and it will totally burn you.

French Onion Soup


Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.

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