French Onion Soup

Total Time:
2 hr
15 min
1 hr 45 min

8 servings

  • 5 sweet onions (like Vidalias) or a combination of sweet and red onions (about 4 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 10 ounces canned beef consume
  • 10 ounces chicken broth
  • 10 ounces apple cider (unfiltered is best)
  • Bouquet garni; thyme sprigs, bay leaf and parsley tied together with kitchen string
  • 1 loaf country style bread
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Splash of Cognac (optional)
  • 1 cup Fontina or Gruyere cheese, grated

Trim the ends off each onion then halve lengthwise. Remove peel and finely slice into half moon shapes. Set electric skillet to 300 degrees and add butter. Once butter has melted add a layer of onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat layering onions and salt until all onions are in the skillet. Do not try stirring until onions have sweated down for 15 to 20 minutes. After that, stir occasionally until onions are dark mahogany and reduced to approximately 2 cups. This should take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Do not worry about burning.

Add enough wine to cover the onions and turn heat to high, reducing the wine to a syrup consistency. Add consume, chicken broth, apple cider and bouquet garni. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

Place oven rack in top 1/3 of oven and heat broiler.

Cut country bread in rounds large enough to fit mouth of oven safe soup crocks. Place the slices on a baking sheet and place under broiler for 1 minute.

Season soup mixture with salt, pepper and cognac. Remove bouquet garni and ladle soup into crocks leaving one inch to the lip. Place bread round, toasted side down, on top of soup and top with grated cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pairs Well With

Jammy, earthy red wine

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    219 Reviews
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    I read so may reviews & am astounded that the some cooks do not seem to have read & followed recipes carefully. In this case, Alton said Apple Cider, not apple cider vinegar. I followed the recipe exactly as Alton said, including buying an electric skillet to prepare it in because that is what he showed on TV/video. It made a huge difference!!! I mixed red onions and white sweet onions per the recipe since it is too early for Vidalias. I bought the consommé, the apple cider (unfortunately, I could not find fresh unfiltered apple cider at this time of year), white wine, and cognac and added them as he said along with the bouquet garni...and precisely as he says in the recipe. It was absolutely FABULOUS!!!!  
    I read many reviews of various recipes, and I get so amused at the many reviewers who don't follow the recipe while offering alternatives that don't work but then say that the chef's recipe is less than stellar. Duh....
    Way too much vinegar. Couldn't even finish the first bowl. Will not make again.
    It was good love AB and love the show. I like my food a little spicy so I added a few jalapenos and it was sweet and spicy. Delicious
    Apple cider? In French Onion Soup? What a ridiculous component for a classic soup. We threw the soup away; literally. This is yet another reason why I enjoyed many of the Good Eats episodes, but found that Alton's recipes are frequently way off the mark.
    I really can't speak for this particular Alton Brown recipe but the easiest and absolute best onion soup is the one by Tyler Florence on this very same site. It is simpler and tastes fabulous. Tyler's recipe has a solid 5 star rating with lots of reviews.
    Great recipe better then the rest
    Gonna make this...any suggestions on which wine I should use???
    Absolutely horrible. I love AB but had to throw this one out after wasting a bunch of ingredients and 5 hours of my life trying to save it. Waaaaaaay too much vinegar. Why does FN still post this recipe? It is terrible. I wish I had read the reviews before making it and wasting my hard earned money.
    Read the ingredients. Apple cider. :)
    LOL! I was going to make the same reply.
    I love ya Alton, but, apple cider does not belong in French Onion Soup
    Alton's recipe calls for Apple Cider not Apple Cider Vinegar. This may have been the reason all you could taste is vinegar. I always go to his recipes first. This is a great and simple one for Alton. Five Stars!!!
    OMG can you say vinegar. That's all I could taste even after attempting to water this recipe down with 1 full carton of beef stock, and another of chicken broth. Ultamatley, after 2 hours + of cooking I threw it out. Uggggh.
    Why did you put vinegar in it?
    Thanks Alton :
    This was fantastic! I made some adjustments based on what I had available and other reviews: reducing the cider to 8 oz, increasing the chicken broth to around 14 oz, using swiss and mozzarella cheese (instead of Fontina or Gruyere, and substituting dried thyme for the fresh (my supermarket doesn't carry the fresh. I'll definitely make it again; it is a bit sweet, so I may use a combo of red and yellow onions next time.
    Completing the first try and following this recipe exactly I found the soup to be too thick and too sweet. Very good recipe but on the next go round I'm going to reduce the apple cider by half and increase the fluids by adding 20 oz of beef stock in addition to the chicken stock. On my rating scale I gave the first shot a B- but with some adjustments to our particular tastes this is a A recipe for sure.
    Was wonderful! Kicked it up to notches unknown! My wife loved it, and that is the best review I can give.
    A smidge too sweet. I'll cut the cider in half the next time. Otherwise, very tasty! I also made this without an electric skillet and it turned out fine!
    I have had the pleasure of making this a few times and I love it! Finding the correct wine to balance the onions was the difficult issue for me as I am not much of an alcohol consumer but WOW! when I figured it out. This has rapidly become my favorite soup. Thank you Alton Brown :
    Don't bother with this recipe! Took three hours for onions to carmelize. A super sweet inedible mess.
    As much as I love AB, I hated this soup. The Vidalia onions got mushed way before they carmelized and all the additional liquid ingredients hid the rich flavor of the beef broth. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
    I've made this before and really liked it. This time, half way through my electric skillet shorted out. Total bummer. I put the onions in a cast iron skillet but the just stewed in their own juices - put half in another cast iron pot and now they seem to be doing okay. We'll see.
    Alton brown really let me down on this one, I think maybe something got lost in the measurements. Waaaayyyyyy too sweet, I was definitely looking for saltier, brothier goodness, this did not fit the bill. I don't think sweet onions are right for this soup either.
    Was the best french onion soup I have had. I used apple juice and it was great. I can't believe how easy it was to make.
    I read the reviews before I fixed this and took to heart the comment that it was too sweet: I made sure to buy an apple cider with absolutely no additional ingredients. BUT! I don't think it's the cider that makes this sweet: I tasted the onions while I was cooking them (just at the salt and butter stage and they were majorly sweet. I think next time (sorry alton I'm going to use spanish onions to see if I can get a more savory flavor. Otherwise, not bad. Just sweet.
    I agree with those who say this recipe is different than the classic ones that call for all beef stock only. But after trying it, I can say it may appeal to those who want a slight difference. The mix of stock / liquid lets the sweet earthy taste of the carmelized onions stand out more. I too thought it would be way too much vinegar, but I used the unfiltered natural vinegar as suggested and it cooks down to a very very interesting taste. For those who prefer more beef taste, just play around with the liquid mix, use less chicken stock etc. The beauty is you can adjust it to your own taste.
    It doesn't call for vinegar, it's Cider! But you're not the first person to misread the directions on this recipe. LOL!
    It was good, but...too much wine and cider, would prefer it to be all beef stock instead of combo. 
    To see and hear Julia Child make her version, search youtube for 'Julia' and 'onion soup'. 
    She uses red wine (only 1 cup and uses a parmesan/swiss combo as the gratinee.
    I have the recipe book from Alton's early years and the amount of onions is different. It says 5 Lbs of onions, not 5 onions. I can see why some people would find this recipe too sweet, it's mostly cider! However using 5 lbs of onions yields an amazing soup!
    It has a refreshing and sweet flavor that I really enjoyed. Nothing like the usual. A friend of mine that is really a picky eater and he really liked it, wanted more. Very good
    Great soup!!! My twist was to follow current recipe but finish in crock pot on low for 4-6 hours. NICE!
    My husband will order this soup at any place we eat out if they have it. So I wanted to try & make it for him. I used Alton's recipe. I read some of the reviews & listened to a few about less cider. I used half of what he says & it was perfect. I do not eat this soup out but i am now a fan of thhis recipe. I made it just in time. I ened up sick for a week. Lived off this. The broth is to die for & just warms your bones all around. LOVE IT. Will make it often. :
    Yes, it's a little on the sweet side, but if you like that, this is really an amazing recipe. If you don't, lighten up the cider and don't darken the onions as much. Really great recipe :D
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