Onion Soup Gratinée


My daughter, her soon-to-be French mother-in-law, and I made this soup two days before my daughter’s wedding, which was held at my home. Her vision was to serve French onion soup at midnight, and we did, inviting the band and all remaining guests to join us.


  • 6 Tbsp (3 oz/90 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lb (1 kg) yellow onions, very thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • tsp all-purpose flour
  • 8 cups (64 fl oz/2 l) low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) dry white wine
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

    For the Topping

  • 12–16 slices coarse country bread, each ½ inch (12 mm) thick
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (8 oz/250 g) shredded Gruyère or Emmentaler cheese
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until translucent, 4–5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the sugar and salt, and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown, 20–30 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir until the flour is browned, 2–3 minutes. Slowly add the broth and 2 Cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) water, stirring constantly. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir in the wine and pepper, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the onions begin to break down, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, ready the topping. Preheat the broiler. Put the bread slices on a baking sheet and broil, turning once, until dry but not colored, about 3 minutes per side. Rub both sides of each slice with the cut sides of the garlic cloves, then brush both sides with the olive oil. Return to the broiler and broil, turning once, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes per side.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Place 6–8 ovenproof bowls on a rimmed baking sheet. Ladle in the soup, top each bowl with 2 toasted bread slices, top the bread with the cheese, and then dot with the butter. Bake until a golden crust forms on top and the soup bubbles at the edges, about 15 minutes. Serve at once.