With cooler weather, nothing is more comforting than a hot, delicious bowl of soup. French Onion Soup happens to be one of my favorites. Not only is it hearty, it’s a fairly simple recipe and yet, a lot of people steer clear from making it at home. Maybe that’s because the final presentation looks fancy. I’m going to give you an easy breakdown and simple recipe so you can impress your friends and family.
Cooking for One
There was a point in my life when I never cooked for me. I cooked for my children, my family, and for customers. My family used to own a bar/restaurant. Strangely enough, I married a man whose family owns and operates a restaurant for 30+ years! If you’re ever in Orange County, NY, definitely check out Loughran’s – Hudson Valley’s Happiest Irish Pub.
The transition from prepping and cooking for hundreds, to no less than six people, down to one is challenging. To this day, I rarely let Pat cook at home because the last time he did, he made five pounds of mashed potatoes to feed three people. TRUE STORY!
>> Um… So yeah, I might be giving up a soup secret here. Shh! <<
I’m an empty-nester and my husband doesn’t eat soup. I’ve also noticed that the older I get the less my digestive tract likes canned food with all of its salt and preservatives, especially soup. French onion soup happens to be on my comfort food list so if I want it, I make it. I’ve tailored this recipe to satisfy my soup craving without overwhelming amounts of leftovers that might otherwise be thrown out.
Let’s Make French Onion Soup!
Making the French Onion Soup Base
- 3-6 sweet onions (depending on size).
- 1 cube or packet beef base (I prefer Knorr or Goya brand)
- 1 cube or packet chicken base (I prefer Knorr or Goya brand)
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
- 1.5 cup water
Vidalia sweet onions are most common at the local grocery. Cut the onions in half, cut both ends off and remove the top layer of skin to reveal the meat. Slice lengthwise, turn and cut into thirds (or smaller).
In a 2 – 3 quart sauce pot, add the onions, beef base, chicken base, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Mix well.
On your stovetop, cook on medium heat and stir occasionally. You’ll know it’s done when the onions are soft and fairly translucent. Allow the liquid to reduce until the base is almost like a thin gravy texture.
At this point, the French Onion Soup base is done.
Time to Bake!
If you are planning to serve the entire pot for 6 or more people, evenly divide the base to your oven-safe bowls.
Add 1 cup of water (more or less depending on how rich you want your soup).
Add a half plain bagel (or plain croutons)
Top off with 1 or 2 slices each Provolone and Swiss cheese
Bake in oven at 350 until cheese is melted.
If you want to get really “fancy” sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese and parsley on top (not pictured).
I love using half a bagel because it’s easy to break into chunks. Croutons work too. If you have neither, a slice of bread also works. I’ve never attempted a gluten-free option or gone without the bread.
I also prefer really cheesy French Onion soup so I’ll layer two slices of Swiss and two slices of Provolone cheese. I also love crispy, baked cheese so I keep it in the oven until it’s nearly burnt.
If you are cooking for yourself and ready to eat immediately, follow the directions above but allow the rest of the base to cool.
Once the base is cool, you can separate individual portions into freezer bags. I usually put the freezer bags into a plastic tote just in case it leaks. Then freeze the base until you crave another bowl of French Onion!
All images from the kitchen of Meredith Loughran