Tuesday, April 24, 2012

American French Onion Soup – Easy Just Got Easier

French onion soup is a very easy recipe. So, it’s a little ironic that this American French onion soup is an attempt to make things even easier. Then again, taking ideas that don’t need improving, and changing them anyway, is a time-honored American tradition.

Instead of going “French” on the onions, and cutting thin slices, we’re doing more of an extra large dice. I like the flavor and texture this cut provides, and there’s no danger of being chin-slapped by a long, steaming strand of onion. 

To make the caramelizing step a bit easier, we’re going to use the oven. You can just toss the onions in, stir it once in a while, and wait for them to brown. You don’t have to stand there and watch as closely as you would on the stovetop, and since the oven is blasting the pan with heat from all sides, you get a nice even color. 

The last Americanization is a departure from the classic gruyere cheese. My love for gruyere is borderline inappropriate, but keeping with the theme, I decided to go with a 50/50 blend of extra-sharp New York cheddar and mild Monterey Jack. It was wonderful, and a nice change of pace. 

Regarding the ominous vinegar warning in the video – I think a little touch of sherry vinegar really balances the flavors perfectly, but like salt, everyone’s palate is different. So, if you haven’t used it before, it may be a better to just add the vinegar, to taste, to the finished soup. Drip a little in, taste, and adjust. 

Anyway, spring weather means plenty of cool, rainy days, and what better way to enjoy those than with a nice bowl of onion soup? Whether American, French, or some other yet-to-be-discovered cultural variation, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy! 

Ingredients for about 2 1/2 quarts of soup:
6 large yellow onions, cut in large dice
1/2 stick unsalted butter salt and pepper to taste
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 or 2 tsps sherry vinegar, or to taste
3 tbsps dry sherry wine (do NOT use “cooking wine”)
4 cups high-quality beef broth
4 cups high-quality chicken broth
buttered croutons
shredded extra-sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese (you’ll need about 1/3 cup per bowl)

View the complete recipe


Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,

Thank you for another great receipe!

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And any other place you think is unique to San Fran that is great to place to eat.

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Unknown said...

Thank you..yumm. Now I know what I'm doing for lunch:)

Anonymous said...

Marie Antoinette: "Let them eat American French Onion soup"...

Dean said...

Looks good. I have made your original version of this soup in the past and it turns out very well, but I am tempted to try this, too.

Anonymous said...

YUM. My recipe is very similar to yours. The one thing - and it's so silly - is that I have the worst time with the bread. I toast it and put it in but it always winds up sinking into the container. Perhaps too much cheese? I dunno.

Colleen said...

I love your blog.
I love your videos.
Definitely trying the onion soup, American style!

Eve said...

oh my... i can even TASTE it from this video!!! It's THAT delicious looking!!! I must try this one! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,

This isn't a comment on your recipe, its on your website. The past few weeks your videos pause every twenty seconds or so, for about five seconds. I have no problems with other sites, and I even tried watching your videos from work, which has a super fast connection. I've concluded your popularity has surpassed your sites bandwidth. A good problem!

I noticed today that I'm not watching complete videos because it is annoying to have the interruption of the video stopping. So this problem could impact your business, because us websurfers are a fickle bunch.

Hope you get the bandwidth and speedy server you deserve.

LibStre said...

My oldest daughter and I made this tonight; it was absolutely delicious. Looking forward to enjoying it agian in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Hey, fickle web surfer, you want a refund? LOL, BTW, the videos play without pausing, and your conclusion doesn't hold dirty dish water.

Asian Malaysian said...

A slowcooker is another lazy man's way to both sweat and caramelize those onions.

Jen said...

Anonymous...the videos are hosted on YouTube. So the issues you are experiencing are due to their site speed, not FoodWishes'. Try starting the video, then after a second, pausing and letting it pre-load for about 5 minutes before you watch it.

Steven K. said...

Chef John,

I have an ingredient question. In your beef stock recipe, you add tomato paste. In your recent chicken broth recipe, you add ketchup. And in your older chicken stock recipe, you add neither. What's the deal with the tomato products and when/what should we use for making stock/broth?


Chris K. said...

It's about time some bold American took onion soup away from those cheese-eating surrender monkeys! Should we call it "Freedom Onion Soup" now?

Vidalia onions are coming into season. They're much sweeter than yellow onions and caramelize beautifully. Perfect for onion soup.

For deglazing I like to use Bourbon whiskey instead of sherry. One shot for the onions and two for the chef.

Because if I've learned anything at all from Food Wishes, it's that I'm the boss of my own questionable life decisions.

Thanks, Chef John!

Steve said...


As always, it looks and should taste great.

I have to admit I'm a bit suspicious of the diced vs. Frenched thing since I think part of the charm of French onion soup is the stringy onion bits, but that's probably just me. I'll definitely give it a try.

One variation: I like making my FOS with Maui-style onions, which I think I picked up from a Ming Tsai recipe back when Food Network was actually about food. They're a bit sweeter than regular yellow onions.

I've also done it with Texas 1015s, so there is definitely room for variation.

wakanetwork said...

The combination of ingredients is simply perfect! I'm hungry now!

dla seniora said...

Thanks for sharing. I love french soups, especially with onion. Greetings from Polnad. I'll be back soon.

Chef John said...

steven, there is no system. i just use what i feel like depending on the use.

Sandra from Montreal said...

I think you may have improved a French classic! I've always disliked the long onion strands as well. (Funny how you get so used to doing something one way that even slicing the onions differently seems revolutionalry :) The recipe looks wonderful and we'll definitely be having it soon (maybe even tomorrow, as they're predicting snow in Montreal!). The only change I'll make is adding a lot more red wine :) Thanks for another great recipe!

Patent Attorney said...

Can I make this a British American French onion soup by enjoying it with a cup of tea?

Anonymous said...

Food Wish--Food Wish--Food Wish---
It's morel season in "my" woods so a new morel recipe would be such fun!!
Thanks in advance,

Mike said...

I like how you included beef and chicken broth. I've been drinking beef broth and loving it. I like how you also include a little bit of dry sherry wine to give it a unique flavor.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think about doing any activism, using your fame to bring awerness about any of the many problems we have in this world? Thanks.

Kris said...

Made this yesterday for dinner, boy was it good! I have to admit I added some soy sauce and onion powder and Worcestershire to beef up the seasoning, the salt and pepper didn't quite do it. But my family just loved it and I will be making this again and again.

Gretchen said...

Any particular reason I couldn't brown the onions in the oven in my dutch oven? Then I wouldn't have to do the transfer from pan to pot

Chef John said...


shesfiction said...

Hi Chef John,
I've made this soup before with great success. It's a fantastic recipe, I love french onion soup.... it's just I usually strain out the onion because I have textual issues with onion floating in my soup. I have recently had some success hiding diced onion in various dishes and I was wondering (I know you can't provide me a definitive answer) if you could provide your best guess of what might become of the flavour of the soup if I used a fine dice instead of large chunks of onion (for the purpose of actually eating the onion and not having to strain it out). While I will probably wind up trying it all the same, I
thank you in advance for a educated guess.
All the best,
-A Very Strange Fan of Your Site.

Chef John said...

It will probably taste just about the same! Enjoy!

Unknown said...

Wow that Onion Soup looks great and I love it. I've never made it by browning the onions in the oven. And I was sure when I cooked at the Brown Derby ( Pennsylvania Restaurant ). It's been a while and I want to say provolone and mozzarella mix. I just found you yesterday looking for a lasagna recipe. I would love to bring you home with me. Are you married? :)~~~

Unknown said...

It looks great. I'm going to get the ingredients minus the sherry, vinegar and cheese. I've only ever made it with the crouton like you did with mozzarella and provolone mix if my memory serves me correctly. I will try your cheese combo. I found you yesterday looking for a lasagna recipe and it looks yummy. I ordered the dish yesterday after I watched the video. I am in Pennsylvania so if you live close to me. I will make it and you can come have dinner with me. We can make our own desert. You know like canoli's or however you spell that word. I also noticed reading what you say about the Snuggle blanket. My nickname at the gaming sites I use is xXxSnugglesxXx. Have a great day, afternoon, evening wherever you live. :)~~~

The Dago by the Lake said...

This worked wonderfully! I have struggled with French onion soup, I simply didn't want to "surrender" to the time needed with most recipes, this one worked first time brilliantly!

The Dago by the Lake said...

This worked perfectly first time! I have struggled with French onion soup and simply did not want to "surrender". Chef John you've done it again. You made the complex "doable" and fun. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Three mistakes. #1)caramelize the onions in your pot and skip the skillet(I use a 5-qt. LeCreuset dutch oven) and brown the onions a bit more. #2)Toast slices from a good baguette and rub each crouton on each side with a raw garlic clove. #3)Gruyere is the only cheese to use on this dish. Also, use some decent crockery to present the dish. Those souffle dishes don't have the same ambience. Other than that, good recipe.

BennuBird said...

I made this soup and followed every step to the letter and it was fantastic! Not only because of taste, but the changes you made prevented the inevitable onion soup heartburn I have always suffered.

Thank you from the bottom of my un-burning heart!

Red Cap said...

I love this recipe, I've made it a bunch of time... Lots of compliments!

I tried doing the whole thing from start to finish in a Dutch Oven. It works great, and saves a bunch of time! I think the onions even brown faster.

Just spreading the joy, one lazy American to another.

Unknown said...

Would this freeze well? I’d like to double it and freeze in smaller portions. It’s a little time consuming, but I love onion soup!

arbpen said...

In my monthly menu, I have been doing a lot of Italian and Mexican, so I thought it was time to put some French recipes in there, too. So, for my month of French, I'm making this. Wow! It's only an hour in and it's already wonderful. I made a couple of changes. I didn't have sherry vinegar, so I substituted balsamic. I had leftover turkey stock, used that instead of chicken. I also added shallots in oil to the butter, and of course, I had to add a little Pensey's Sunny Paris herb mix. It's perfect, I mean absolutely perfect! Thank you!