On comfort food, smelling like soup, and indoor weather

It was a wet and stormy weekend so we stayed close to home for the most part (did I mention that we live upstairs from an Irish bar?).  We made a comfort dish we’ve never made before:  french onion soup.

Be forewarned, this is NOT a dish you should cook if you are short on time. It’s a long process if you want the soup to taste just right, so reserve this recipe for weekends or vacation days. It’s also not a dish you want to make if you want to go out afterwards. You will smell like soup and people will look at you funny.

French Onion Soup. Photo by T.

Ingredients: It’s an affordable dish to make, so if you’re throwing a dinner party you can put on this on the menu. Just wash your hair before guests arrive. I was going to use the Smitten Kitchen recipe, but it proved much too complicated for me so I just used it as a guide and improvised. 

  • 6 ramekins or oven proof bowls
  • 4-5 onions (you’ll have to caramelize your onions in batches unless you have a HUGE dutch oven)
  • olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of dry white wine (we bought the cheap stuff from Costco, nothing fancy here)
  • 1 baguette
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 -2 bay leaf/leaves
  • 2-3 sprigs of thyme, dried thyme will work too
  • salt and pepper
  • Better than Bouillon beef base (optional, but it’s my secret ingredient)
  • 2 teaspoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • Cheese: Swiss and Gruyere (1/2 cup grated or sliced, doesn’t matter, add more or less depending on preference)
  • Slice all your onions. We have a 3 qt. dutch oven and I caramelized our onions in 2 batches and combined them when they were all caramelized.
  • Drizzle olive oil in your dutch oven, and put it on low to medium (around 3). Put in onions, thyme, bay leaf, a pinch of salt (go easy) and some pepper. Toss for about 5 minutes. Add in a teaspoon of brown sugar. It will help with the process.
  • Cover your onions with a lid. Turn down the heat to low. Let it sit for about 30 minutes and stir every 10 minutes. Do this for your second batch of onions, if needed.
  • Pre-heat oven to 325 in the meantime.
  • You can start prepping your bread and cheese while the onions caramelize.

Onions: Before / After. Photo by T.


  • When the onions are done caramelizing, put in 2 cloves of minced garlic. Stir. You don’t want the garlic to burn. Add in 2 teaspoons of flour to thicken. Stir on low heat for about a minute.
  • Time for wine! Add in 1 cup of white wine. Bring to boil. Drink the rest of the wine in the bottle.
  • By now, the smell is intoxicating. Add in beef broth. Add in water. Add in a spoonful of Better than Beef bouillon. This is the secret ingredient and will give it a developed flavor. It won’t taste like much right now, but that’s why you need to let it cook down and reduce.
  • Turn down heat to medium-low. Let it simmer for 30 minutes. If you find it too salty, just add more water.
  • Cut your baguette into cubes or at a bias. Drizzle with olive oil and pepper. Put in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until brown. Once you finish this step, turn your oven over to broil.
  • Spoon soup into oven-proof ramekins. Add in cheese. Top with bread. Add more cheese on top. Put ramekins on a baking tray and place the entire tray into the oven.
  • Cheese is broiling. Watch the oven. This takes less than a minute.
  • After removing the ramekins from the oven, let them cool for a good 2-3 minutes.

Serves: 6, but you’ll want seconds

Time: 1.5 hours

French Onion Steps, taken on my iPhone

*If you have leftovers or not enough ramekins, you can just keep the soup in some containers. Don’t add bread or cheese. The flavors will develop, and second-day french onion soup is even better. You might have to dilute it with some more water or beef broth if the flavor is too intense.

*You can make  a gluten-free version of this soup if you omit the bread and 2 teaspoons of flour. It’s just as delicious with some gluten-free crackers. You can also substitute the flour with quinoa flour, but you really don’t need to.

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5 Responses to On comfort food, smelling like soup, and indoor weather

  1. thewineycook says:

    Looks fantastic…we’ve had the “traditional” french onion soup bowls sitting in a cupboard for a few years now and for as much as we cook you’d think we’d have made it by now. Perhaps before the weather turns completely to summer here in DC I’ll make a batch. I’ve been toying with the idea of using Julia’s recipe but this sounds much simpler and just as delicious. (Imagine that…a recipe simpler than one of Ms. Child’s. LOL)

  2. That looks incredibly delish! French Onion Soup is my favorite. I plan on making this once I purchase some ramekins!

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