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Achieving the quintessential oniony flavor of this soup requires patience—caramelizing onions is a slow process. Rushing only yields bitter, burnt results: a problem no amount of cheese can fix.

BEFORE YOU START: You can prepare the caramelized onions—steps 1 through 3—up to two days in advance.



Cook Time: 6-6½ Hours


Butcher’s twine

6 oven-safe bowls, ramekins, or crocks

2 bay leaves

12 black peppercorns

6 large sprigs of thyme

8 pounds (about 8 large) yellow onions

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

1½ teaspoons all-purpose flour

3½ quarts beef stock

Freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons sherry wine vinegar

1 baguette, about 2½ inches in diameter

Extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

6–12 slices (⅛-inch thick) aged Comté or Emmental cheese, at least 4 inches square

1½ cups grated aged Comté or Emmental cheese


Based on 14 ratings

Preparation Method

To make soup

  1. Preheat French top for 25–30 minutes.
  2. In a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat, melt butter and oil. Add onions and 1 tablespoon salt, moving the pot towards the outer edge of the French top to reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes, for about 1 hour, or until onions have wilted and released a lot of liquid. Regulate the heat, moving the pot around the French top, to keep the mixture bubbling gently while the onions wilt.
  3. Continue cooking onions for about 4 hours more or until onions are caramelized throughout and a rich deep brown. Stir every 15 minutes, scraping browned bits off the bottom and corners of the pot.
  4. Transfer 1½ cups caramelized onions to a 5-quart stockpot; reserve extra for another use.
  5. Constantly stirring, sift in flour and cook over medium-high heat for 2–3 minutes.
  6. Add beef stock and sachet and simmer for 1 hour, or until liquid reduces to 2½ quarts.
  7. Remove sachet. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and vinegar.

To make croutons
Cut baguette into 3/8-inch slices. Place on a baking sheet; brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Broil until golden brown and crisp, 1–2 minutes.

To finish and serve

  1. Place oven-safe bowls on a baking sheet. Add soup to the bowls, filling within ½ inch of the top.
  2. Top each with 2 croutons; do not submerge croutons into soup.
  3. Top croutons with slices of cheese, overlapping the edges of the bowls by ½ inch. Sprinkle grated cheese over the sliced cheese, filling in any thin areas.
  4. Broil until cheese melts and browns. Serve immediately.