Fantastic and Frugal French Onion Soup

The success of French onion soup depends almost entirely on the quality of the beef broth, and store-bought broth in a can or box (or especially those MSG-laden beef bouillon granules) simply does not cut it. I simmered my own homemade beef broth for this recipe. I took a couple of meaty soup bones that we had stored away in the fridge and put them into a large pot along with one onion (quartered), two carrots (chopped), and two celery ribs (chopped). I filled the pot up with water, added generous helpings of both salt and pepper, brought the whole concoction to a boil, then turned it down to the lowest heat and let it simmer overnight. In the morning I strained the broth and refrigerated it. I had a house that smelled amazing, a fabulous beef broth for my recipe, and bones to give to my very happy dog.

My husband loves onions, especially when they are in French onion soup. There is a small restaurant in our hometown that serves a delicious French onion soup, which was his professed favorite. I set about creating a homemade recipe that I hoped would be able to rival it. The result? Success. He declared that I beat our local restaurant’s (and anybody else’s) recipe hands down, and he finished the entire pot of soup. I had one cup, and he ate the rest. Hooray, I have created a winner!

For this winning recipe you will need:

¼ cup olive oil
4 lbs onions (about five large), sliced
2t black pepper
2t salt
1T dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1T dried parsley
½ cup red wine (no need to worry – the alcohol will cook off)
6 cups beef broth
1T balsamic vinegar
Sliced Gruyere cheese (or Swiss, if you prefer – we don’t)

Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker or Dutch oven (or, in a pinch, in a heavy-bottomed pot with a snug-fitting lid) over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and stir. Cover the pot and cook the onions for approximately fifty minutes, stirring about every five minutes, just often enough to ensure that the onions cook evenly and do not burn. You might have to add a tablespoon of water to prevent excessive browning. After fifty minutes, add the pepper, thyme, parsley, salt, and wine. Cook five minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot to remove any browned bits. Add the broth and bay leaves, bring to a boil, and then simmer 45 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and stir in the vinegar. Just before serving, fire up your broiler to high, ladle the soup into oven-safe crocks or bowls, top with a slice of cheese, and broil for five minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown and has formed a beautiful and delicious melted seal over your crocks.

I am sharing this recipe over at the Gluten Free Homemaker.

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12 Responses to Fantastic and Frugal French Onion Soup

  1. Sara says:

    Mmmm. I love french onion soup! I haven’t made it in a long time. I may have to try your recipe very soon. Thanks for sharing on Grain-Free Tuesdays!

    • elliemaeh says:

      Thanks for stopping by to visit, and glad I gave you a new recipe idea! I just checkout out your blog, and the bbq sauce looked delicious – I have some ribs in the freezer waiting to be cooked, so I might have to try it out.

  2. Amanda says:

    This is my grandpa’s favorite food ever! I will be trying this recipe soon! Thanks for sharing!

    • elliemaeh says:

      Glad I found a favorite! It is such a delicious recipe, and so versatile. I used sweet yellow onions so my soup ended up with a nice light hint of sweetness, but you can make so many fantastic taste variations simply by switching up the onion varieties. I think next time I am going to experiment with adding some purple onion.

  3. Bean says:

    I’ve never actually had french onion soup as it usually has croutons, which I obviously cannot eat. I would love to try making this, though!

    • elliemaeh says:

      I find the croutons to be a wholly unnecessary addition. The browned cheese forms its own very delicious and GF crust.

  4. Your post has made my stomach growl…..and I just ate lunch!! Love French onion soup.

    Great post and thanks for sharing at the hearth and soul hop.

  5. You know for some reason I was under the impression that French Onion Soup had meat in it. I wonder if I could make this with veggie broth to create a vegetarian version. Thanks for sharing! I would love for you to share this at the blog-get-together I’m hosting for Sugar Free Sundays! http://flipcookbook.com/2011/03/sugar-free-sunday-is-here/

  6. hellad says:

    Oh man, great idea. I love French Onion soup. Perhaps I will make this for dinner tomorrow night. I have a nice batch of marrow broth in the fridge just waiting to be used! Thanks for the recipe and thanks for sharing it with Grain-Free Tuesdays :)

    • elliemaeh says:

      Thanks for hosting such a great blog carnival! I can always find recipes there that inspire my cooking. I will be back again this week with a new (dessert) recipe!

  7. Linda says:

    I wonder if this could be cooked under pressure in the pressure cooker. I bet so. It would cut down on the time. Thanks for participating in Gluten-Free Wednesdays. Please add a link back. :)

  8. Pingback: Old Fashioned, Easy, and Frugal Beef Stew in the Slow Cooker | A Mom On A Mission . . . . . . to nurture and nourish her family

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