With an easy cooking hack, you can make this iconically delicious French onion soup (complete with French bread and melted cheese) in a fraction of the time!

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Side view of prepared French onion soup in a thick bowl, topped with French bread and cheese.

About Easy French Onion Soup

It’s never the wrong time for comfort food, and nothing says comfort quite like a big bowl of soup.

And when it comes to soup, what’s better than a layered soup? Or a soup that comes complete with its own crunchy bread or a crusty cheese topping?

I personally can’t think of any, and that’s exactly why I felt obligated to whip up a huge pot of French onion soup this week.

All this cold weather simply demanded it.

What is French onion soup?

A bowl of classic French onion soup is as much about the contents as it is about the presentation.

The soup itself a simple: a lightly flavored beef broth that’s simmered with sliced onions. And while this is delicious on its own, the real magic happens when it’s ready to serve.

Thick slices of french bread (or a healthy portion of crunchy croutons) are floated on top of the soup, which is then topped with various cheeses.

Set your oven to broil and cook the prepared soup for three to five minutes, just long enough to melt the cheeses and crisp the bread.

Garnish the soup with some chopped chives and enjoy!

Which onions are best for french onion soup?

Typically, french onion soup is made with either yellow or sweet onions. Yellow onions really bring out the beef flavor while sweet onions are ideal for caramelized flavor. When I make this recipe, I use sweet onions.

You can also use white or red onions, but these onions will not be as sweet and flavorful as the other types. Sugar is typically added to white and red onions to help the caramelization have the right flavor.

Top down view of two bowls of French onion soup.

Why don’t you caramelize the onions?

This particular recipe for french onion soup is designed to be easy, and part of that easiness is a reduced cooking time. This is accomplished by using a cooking hack to get caramelized onion flavor without spending the extra cooking time fully caramelizing the onions.

To do this, you would:

  • Use sweet onions, to ensure maximum flavor.
  • Add sugar when cooking, to enhance the sweetness.

With this method, the onions are sautéd for about five to seven minutes (or until translucent and soft), giving the onions a soup-friendly soft texture and carmelized-like flavor.

When compared to caramelizing onions the traditional way (which can take up to 50 minutes or more) this trick can save you a lot of time. However, using this cooking hack means that the onions won’t have the iconic deep brown color or be nearly as soft. So the onions will taste caramelized, but will not look and feel caramelized.

If you would still like to caramelize the onions the traditional way, you can use all the same ingredients in the recipe (minus the sugar) but cook the onions on medium-low for about 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are a dark caramel color. For more tips on this, check out this guide: How to Caramelize Onions.

What type of cheese should you use?

The cheese you use can really transform this soup, and while there’s no hard-set rule on which is the best, there are a few “most common” choices you can pick from. Feel free to use one (or many!) of the options below:

  • Aged gruyère (most traditional)
  • Provolone cheese
  • Grated Parmesan

Should you grate or shred your own cheese?

Using pre-grated cheese is extremely convenient, but it contains some preservatives (such as potato starch) that help keep the grated cheese separated in the bag. And while this is great for grabbing a quick pinch of cheese, it will also cause the melted cheese to appear lumpy or harden faster than it normally should.

So if you’re a cheese lover like me and want the creamiest experience possible for your soup, I highly recommend grating a block of parmesan. I know it’s more work, but the end result will more than make up for it.

How long is french onion soup good for?

If you have already assembled the full soup (including the soup base, French bread, and melted cheese) it’s best to enjoy it the same day it was prepared. Storing the soup at this point will lead to the french bread absorbing the liquid and becoming soggy, which many will fund unappetizing.

However, you can store the soup itself before the French bread and cheese have been added. Just allow the soup to cool, place it in a sealed container, and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days. When ready to eat, you can heat the soup up on the stovetop for 5-10 minutes, then follow the rest of the recipe instructions like normal.

Close up of a spoon digging into French onion soup,

Can you freeze French onion soup?

Yes, you can freeze the prepared onion soup for two to three months.

However, I don’t recommend freezing the soup in the same container with the bread and the cheese. Either store these ingredients in separate containers or buy fresh bread and cheese to serve with the thawed soup.

For quick serving, separate the onion soup into individual-sized portions and seal it in plastic containers or freezer bags.

notes & tips for this onion soup

  • To make this soup, you’ll need to broil it, and to do that, you’ll need soup bowls that are oven-safe. I have a set of these soup bowls in a few different colors and love them!
  • This soup is made using a dutch oven. There are plenty of pricey name-brand options out there, but I’ve used this Dutch oven for years and it’s still holding up just fine.

More great soup recipes

How to make easy french onion soup

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – In a dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat, then toss in the onions. Season with garlic powder, pepper, and salt. If you want to make “classic” French onion soup, you can stir everything together and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until onions are browned and caramelized. However, this recipe is meant to be an “easier” version of french onion soup, so I like to add sugar to the skillet and cook the onions for about 10 minutes. The onions won’t turn a dark brown color (they’ll be a golden color) but you’ll have a similar taste and texture in a fraction of the cooking time. There’s no wrong way to go here, so use whichever method you prefer.

Step 2 – Add beef broth to the dutch oven, stir, and then allow to simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 3 – Scoop out soup and transfer it to some oven-proof soup bowls, filling them up about 1/2 way. Top with a few slices of french bread, a slice of provolone cheese, and a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese.

Step 4 – Quickly broil the soups so the cheese melts and the bread turns crispy.

Step 5 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Side view of prepared French onion soup in a thick bowl, topped with French bread and cheese.
4.54 from 13 votes

Easy French Onion Soup

15 mins prep + 40 mins cook
555 kcal
Yields: 4 servings
With an easy cooking hack, you can make this iconically delicious French onion soup (complete with French bread and melted cheese) in a fraction of the time!

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large sweet onions, sliced into strips
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 pinch salt, to taste
  • 6 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 loaf french bread, cut into thick slices
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, optional
  • fresh chopped chives, for garnish, optional

Instructions

  • In a Dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and season with sugar, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt. Toss onions to coat. Cook onions for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and slightly tacky. * Note: see recipe for notes on how to traditionally caramelize onions instead.
  • Pour beef broth into the Dutch oven and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan as needed. Bring soup to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Allow soup to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until slightly reduced and fragrant.
  • Set oven to broil. Place oven-safe soup bowls on a large baking sheet.
  • Pour soup into soup bowls, filling them about 1/2 way. Add a few pieces of french bread to each bowl, then top with a slice of provolone cheese and sprinkle with grated parmesan.
  • Broil soups for 3-5 minutes or until cheese has melted and bread begins to brown. Be sure to keep an eye on the soup; they can burn quickly!
  • Serve soup immediately with chopped chives as garnish.

Notes

* To traditionally caramelize onions: In a Dutch oven over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add onions and season with garlic powder, black pepper, and salt. Toss onions to coat. Cook onions for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions turn a deep caramel color.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 555kcal | Carbohydrates: 81g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 1546mg | Potassium: 1271mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 400IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 319mg | Iron: 5mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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4 comments

    • Lou Ann kidd

    I made this today using my homemade french bread!! It will be a regular at our house!

    • Courtney Lopez
    • 5 stars

    French onion soup is one of our absolute favorites! I am so excited we have all the ingredients already to make it! 🙂

    • April
    • 5 stars

    french onion soup was my first foodie love! this came out wonderfully, thanks for the recipe 😀

    • Parrish
    • 5 stars

    This sounds perfect for these chilly nights!! Can’t wait to make it!!