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Quite possibly one of the best French Onion Soup recipes around! Super rich and flavorful with crusty toasted bread and melted Swiss cheese. YUM!

Quite possibly one of the best French Onion Soup recipes around! Super rich and flavorful with crusty toasted bread and melted Swiss cheese. YUM!

Hi all, this is Jack. I don’t typically write the story behind the recipes here on A Family Feast, but today I wanted to be the one to share – in my own words – what inspired today’s recipe for French Onion Soup.

Over 20 years ago, I decided to go back to college at night so I could change my career path from working in food service management to information technology. Food was (and is) my passion – but technology pays the bills a whole lot better!

Quite possibly one of the best French Onion Soup recipes around! Super rich and flavorful with crusty toasted bread and melted Swiss cheese. YUM!

So I started a program going to school at night while continuing to work my full-time job as a food service director. I was nervous about going back to school, but fortunately on my first day I met a great guy named Steve who helped me cope with the incredible amount of hours it took to change careers. (Steve was doing the same – making the change from working as a graphic artist to a career in IT.) Steve and I became friends and outside of school we frequently got together (when time allowed) so we could mountain bike and hike.

Steve is French and one of his favorite meals is French Onion Soup. He was particularly fond of my version – which we’re sharing here today – and Steve asked me to make it often for him and his wife.

Quite possibly one of the best French Onion Soup recipes around! Super rich and flavorful with crusty toasted bread and melted Swiss cheese. YUM!

Steve is a special guy in that he has cystic fibrosis, but he still tries to maintain a normal, active lifestyle – in fact, I think his active lifestyle has helped him stay as healthy as he is! Other than some constant coughing, you would never know he has CF because he doesn’t let it run his life – and even on his worst days, he is tougher than me and can bike circles around anyone!

Steve, I know you’ve been waiting for this French Onion Soup recipe – I wanted to make sure I got it just right! This one’s for you buddy!

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French Onion Soup - A Family Feast

French Onion Soup

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings


This is not a quick throw-together soup using canned beef stock. To get the deep beefy flavor just right, you really need to start with a really good beef stock. This recipe is a combination of one that I made early in my food service career and one that I loosely followed from the Culinary Institute of America’s Book of Soups cookbook


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups sliced onion, see note below
  • 3 or 4 parsley stems
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 6 cups homemade beef stock (see recipe here)
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • French bread
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyère Swiss cheese


  1. To slice the onions, cut off root and stem end then cut in half vertically. Cut each half in half again, cutting vertically so you have four thick slices. Now cut slices, staying with the grain, about ¼ to ½ inch thick.
  2. In a large heavy bottomed pot such as a Dutch oven, melt butter and oil over medium low heat. Add onions and stir once. Do not touch again for 15 minutes.
  3. After 15 minutes, stir and do not touch again for another 15 minutes.
  4. Move heat to medium and cook 15 or more minutes until onions are nice and browned and caramelized. Watch closely at this point so they do not get too dark or stick to the bottom. Add a little water if they are sticking.
  5. While onions are cooking, place parsley stems, dried thyme leaves, dried tarragon leaves and the bay leaf onto cheese cloth. Wrap tightly and tie with a string. Hold for later.
  6. Add garlic to onions and cook for one minute.
  7. Add brandy and cook to evaporate.
  8. Add stock and herb bag. Cover loosely and simmer for 45 minutes.
  9. Add salt and pepper as needed.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  11. Place oven proof bowls or crocks into a baking pan and pour hot tap water about half way up outsides of bowls.
  12. Discard herb bag and divide soup between bowls or crocks. (Number of servings depends on size of your bowls or crocks. The finished soup is roughly 8 cups).
  13. Slice French bread into half inch slices and cover the tops of each bowl, overlapping bread slices if needed.
  14. Divide cheese between bowls by covering the tops of the bread.
  15. Place pan with water and soup crocks in oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  16. To get the tops browned and bubbly, place crocks under broiler for a few minutes.
  17. Serve hot and bubbly.

You may also like:

Homemade Beef Stock

Brown (Beef) Stock - A Family Feast


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  • Odelle Smith wrote:

    French onion soup with cheese croutons looks delicious
    I’m definitely going to try this recipe
    It’s easy to follow with precise instructions
    I love the story behind it, what a great guy Steve is, we can all learn from him what an amazing Man
    Many thanks for sharing this

    • Martha wrote:

      He is a great guy Odelle! Hope you enjoy the soup as much as we do!


    “First things, first” as Mother ALWAYS SAID. I was adopted at 5 years old from a VERY VERY bad foster farm. While the other children ate bologna sandwiches, i was given pickled pigs feet and cow’s tongue. But little did this lady know I acquired a special taste for the tongue and can make some lovely little ‘eats’ that my family loves. God has indeed blessed you, Jack. Now you (and Martha) are spreading that blessing to so many of us. This coming weekend, guess what my family will be eating? YAY. I can hardly wait!!! Even though I am 78 now, you have given my husband of 52 years and me reasons to live another 78 years. Gratefully, Jeanette and Frank Lalor Iowa City, IA

    • Jack wrote:

      Wow, not even sure what to say except please pass the tissues. Honestly, when I dig deep, the real reason I do what I do on our blog is because I love to cook and I love to see happy people. It is very satisfying for me, almost therapeutic to make a meal that satisfies someone’s needs. This particular recipe was for a buddy of mine who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. French Onion Soup was his all time favorite meal so when he came to visit one day, I had to make this for him. He recently had a double lung transplant and now has a second chance at life.

      Anyway, thank you for your kind words and we hope you love the soup.

  • Carol Puishis wrote:

    I have been looking a long time for a good French onion soup recipe and this one sounds Devine. I love the great directions you have for every recipe. Great job. Thank you.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Carol – this is one of our all time favorites. Hope you love it too!

  • Pam Link wrote:

    Is there a good substitute for Brandy? Thankyou!

    • Jack wrote:

      Hi Pam – I’ve seen some other sites suggest peach juice as a good substitution for brandy. Hope that helps!

  • Glenn wrote:

    I am a huge French Onion soup fan and have always been looking for the perfect recipe. I can’t wait to try this one!! Keep the great recipes coming!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Glenn – Hope you love this soup as much as we do!

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