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French Onion Chicken Soup combines homemade chicken soup with tender sweet onions in a flavorful broth. Serve each bowl with slices of crispy, toasted bread that is smothered in Parmesan and Swiss cheese.
If you love a traditional French onion soup – you’re going to love this chicken version too!
This warm and comforting meal starts with a homemade chicken stock rather than beef. Then, cooked chicken is combined with the sautéed sweet onions.
Fresh thyme, brandy and Worcestershire sauce – three flavorful ingredients in a traditional French onion soup recipe – are added to the chicken stock. This really transforms it into something quite special – and very delicious!
Serve with toasted slices of bread that have been topped with shredded Parmesan and Gruyere Swiss cheese, then baked in the oven until the cheese has melted.
Why You’ll Love French Onion Chicken Soup
- The rich broth, tender chicken and onions, and the cheese-covered toast are lip-smacking good!
- You won’t need to choose between two favorites soups – enjoy the flavors of both in one easy recipe.
- This makes enough to feed a crowd or to freeze some leftovers, but it can also easily be cut in half for a smaller family.
Key ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken – Choose a fresh, meaty, whole chicken to make a homemade chicken stock for this soup. You’ll pick and shred the chicken from the bones after it is cooked – then add it to the finished soup. While we think a homemade stock is worth the effort, if you are pressed for time, you could use a rotisserie chicken and boxed chicken broth. (You’ll need about four quarts of boxed or canned stock.)
- Sweet onion – You’ll want to use sweet onions – such as Vidalia – for the slices of onion in the finished soup. Yellow onion could be substituted in a pinch, but the onion flavor will be much stronger, and it could possibly overpower the other ingredients. (Note that yellow onion IS used when making the homemade chicken stock.)
- Thyme – Fresh thyme is a must in this soup. Don’t be tempted to use dried – it won’t be the same.
- Other Stock ingredients – In addition to the chicken and thyme, the homemade stock is flavored with yellow onion, fresh garlic, black peppercorns, kosher salt, celery, fresh parsley, and dried bay leaves.
- Soup ingredients – To finish the soup, you’ll need extra virgin olive oil, butter, Worcestershire sauce, salt, sugar, brandy, and Parmesan cheese, along with the chicken stock, chicken, and onions.
- French Bread – A loaf of French bread is sliced, dipped in chicken stock, and coated with Parmesan cheese and Gruyere Swiss before toasting up as a garnish. While other Swiss cheese varieties can be used, Gruyere has a unique nutty flavor that really makes this dish.
Special supplies needed
- Soup pot
- Large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup pot
How do I make French Onion Chicken Soup?
- Make the stock by cooking down the whole chicken with yellow onion, celery stalks, black peppercorns, kosher salt, bay leaves, garlic, fresh parsley and fresh thyme.
- Pick and shred the chicken and skim fat from stock.
- Saute onions with oil, butter, garlic, sugar, and salt, then deglaze with the brandy.
- Add chicken stock to onions, along with cooked chicken and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Make cheese-topped bread slices. Start by slicing the bread, then dipping it in chicken stock. Lay on a baking sheet and top with Parmesan and Swiss cheeses. Then broil in the oven until the cheese melts and becomes toasty brown.
- Serve the soup with more grated Parmesan cheese and the toasted cheesy bread on the side.
Chef’s Tip – Parmesan cheese is used in a few places in this recipe. You will need a total of four cups of grated.
Frequently asked Questions
Can I make French Onion Chicken Soup ahead of time? Yes, the stock and the sauteed onions can be made the day before and the soup assembled the following day. Or make the entire soup ahead of time and reheat for serving.
How do I store leftovers? Store covered and refrigerated for up to three days.
How do I reheat leftovers? Reheat in a sauce pan on the stove, or reheat individual portions in the microwave. Reheat the toasted bread in the oven.
Can I freeze? Yes, the soup can be frozen.
You may enjoy these other chicken soup recipes:
- Flu Chaser Chicken Soup
- Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
- Italian Chicken Soup with Meatballs and Escarole
- Chicken Noodle Soup (New York Penicillin)
- Chicken Mulligatawny Soup
7–8 pounds whole chicken (one large or two small)
1 pound yellow onion, quartered
2 large stalks celery cut in quarters
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed
1 small bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
7 quarts water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 pounds sweet onion, cut in half top to bottom and then cut into quarter-inch thick slices along the grain.
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brandy
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for serving)
1 loaf French Baguette, sliced on the bias into quarter inch thick slices
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
12 ounces Gruyere Swiss cheese, shredded
Place all stock ingredients into a stock pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a fast simmer and cook two hours with a lid slightly ajar.
Place a sheet tray next to the pan. Using tongs and one or two spider strainers, remove chicken to the sheet pan.
Use tongs to pull the bones and skin from the meat and place back into the pot, leaving the meat on the tray. Raise heat to medium high and cook uncovered for another hour.
In the meantime, place chicken meat in the refrigerator and once cool shred the meat, then keep refrigerated until later in this recipe.
After the total three-hour cooking time, strain out and discard all solids. You should be left with close to four quarts of chicken stock. A little more or less is fine. Skim off fat and discard.
While the stock cooks, in a large Dutch oven, add olive oil over medium high heat and once hot, add all of the onions and cook and stir for ten minutes.
Lower heat to medium low and add the garlic, butter, sugar, salt and Worcestershire sauce and cook 20 minutes, stirring often.
Off heat add the brandy then back on medium high heat to cook and evaporate the brandy, about five minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with a rack closest to the broiler.
Measure out one cup of stock and pour the rest into the pot with the onions along with the shredded chicken and bring heat up to get the soup hot.
Add the Parmesan cheese, stir and let sit over low heat while you prepare the cheesy toasted bread.
Line a sheet tray with foil and spray kitchen pan spray all over the foil.
Add the reserved cup of chicken stock to the sheet pan.
Slice the French bread into quarter inch slices on the bias then set into the prepared pan with the bottoms soaking up the stock.
Sprinkle on the 1 ½ cups of grated Parmesan and the 12-ounces of shredded Swiss cheese and place in the oven for ten minutes.
Turn the oven to broil and broil 2-3 minutes until the cheese is hot and bubbly and starting to brown.
To serve, place soup in each bowl, top with additional Parmesan and serve the toasted bread on the sides or over each portion.
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