What makes an exceptionally delicious French onion soup? To food, wine and travel writer Paola Westbeek, the most essential element is time. She suggests that slowly cooking the onions is one of the most important steps in order for them to gently caramelise and infuse the broth with all of their natural sweetness.

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French onion soup
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5 from 1 vote

French onion soup

Slowly cooking the onions is one of the most important steps in order for them to gently caramelize and infuse the broth with all of their natural sweetness.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time12 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Soup, Main Course
Cuisine: French
Keyword: French onion soup, Simple classic French recipes, Traditional French onion soup recipe
Servings: 4 people
Author: Paola Westbeek


  • 50 g butter
  • 1 kg onions halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove pressed
  • small bunch of thyme plus 4 small sprigs for the toasts
  • 1 tsp raw cane sugar
  • Fine sea salt & freshly cracked pepper
  • tbsps all-purpose flour
  • tbsps Armagnac
  • 1 litre strong beef stock
  • 4-6 thick slices of sourdough bread
  • Handful of Gruyère freshly grated


  • Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pan over a gentle heat.
  • Add the onions, garlic, thyme, sugar and a little salt and pepper. Stir, place a lid on the pan and allow everything to cook for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
  • Stir in the flour and cook for three minutes. Turn up the heat, add the Armagnac and follow with the stock.
  • Allow the soup to cook for an additional 10 minutes, without the lid. Taste and correct the seasoning.
  • To make the croutons: Put the pieces of bread on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
  • Top each piece with grated cheese and a sprig of thyme. Place under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!
  • Divide the soup over the bowls and top with a piece of toast.


Looking for a simpler way to cook this? Pop the ingredients listed on step 2 into your slow cooker on a low heat in the morning, and when you come back in the evening, carry on with the rest of the steps below, for a quick and easy evening meal.

Recipe courtesy of Paola Westbeek’s My Winter Kitchen: Warming Recipes for the Coldest Months.

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  1. i used to go to Paris with mates..spend the night visiting, then in the morning go to “Les halles” for a soupe á l’onion” so enjoyable at that time of the morning. then home for bed..

  2. This looks as if it might be good, but can you look at how you present quantities and ingredients for the British reader please, no use of cups as a measurement, we switched to metric a long time ago and we don’t have all purpose flour- usually we either use self’raising or plain flour, then there are strong bread flours and wholemeal as an option, as well as rye flour etc.

    • Hi Danielle,
      We have a variety of international chefs providing recipes and we publish them with the measurements as provided by the chefs. Sometimes that will be in imperial measures and sometimes metric. We are also lucky enough to have readers on both sides of the pond!
      We would recommend having some cup measures handy, alternatively if you have an Alexa device it comes in handy if you ask it to translate the ingredient and the appropriate cup measure into grams!
      Happy cooking!

    • 5 stars
      Im English living in France. I use all sorts of measurements when cooking. You can easily get a translation online. Also it’s handy to get a set of cups for these recipes they are sold everywhere. My set came from a Sainsbury supermarket. But you can get them from Lakeland and most other supermarkets that sells cookware. Enjoy

  3. Sounds delicious, especially on a breezy night. I used to get the soup in America at the Peninsula Hotels and Ritz. The chef told me their little secret was a small amount of tomato-catsup, puree, pretty much anything on hand with a bit of sugar. Can’t wait to try this.
    Many thanks for your consistently lovely recipes.

  4. This is one of my favorite soups along with Carrot and Corriander. One twist to the recipe which I ate in of all places Saudi Arabia (near the causeway to Bahrain) was the soup served piping hot into which was dropped a raw egg which cooked as you waited for it to cool.


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