Fabulous French Onion Soup

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | January 7th, 2010 | Recipes, Soups & Stews

For our family Christmas celebration on Saturday, my husband made a beef roast.  Even though we had a dozen people for dinner, there was plenty of leftover beef.  So, what better to do in the winter than make soup?

For the kids I made a simple veggie-beef-noodle soup.  For us that sounded way too bland and boring.  And as their afternoons were filled with practices and they needed to eat earlier than us, it was the perfect reason to make two pots of soup.  With no wrinkled nose ingredients to avoid, the obvious choice was French onion soup.

I have made French onion soup a few times but never have put chunks of meat into the soup.  It did seem like a good way to make the soup more filling.  Plus, a new addition to this soup was using dry vermouth instead of white wine or a splash of cognac.  When my husband and I finally sat down for dinner around 8:30, both of us were delighted to discover that this was the most delicious French onion soup either of us had eaten.  Ever.  The vermouth gave the soup a nice sweetness, and the beef was quite tender.

The next time we have leftover beef, I will be making this soup.  I even might introduce it to our kids and work on expanding their palates.

Fabulous French Onion Soup


  1. 1/2 Tb. olive oil
  2. 4 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  3. 1/2 tsp. sugar
  4. 1 garlic clove, minced
  5. 5 cups beef broth
  6. 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  7. 1 cup beef, diced
  8. 1 bay leaf
  9. 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  10. salt & pepper
  11. 3 pieces bread, thinly sliced & toasted*
  12. swiss cheese, thinly sliced
  1. In a medium stock pot, heat olive oil and add onions, stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes, add sugar and saute for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add broth, vermouth, beef, bay leaf, and thyme, and cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Taste soup and add salt and pepper as desired.
  4. Cook, covered, for an additional 15 minutes.
  5. Ladle soup into individual bowls (oven-proof are best). Top with bread and slices of cheese. Oven-proof bowls should be placed under a heated broiler for a minute or two to melt cheese. Non-oven-proof bowls can be placed in the microwave for 30-45 seconds to melt cheese.
  1. *We had leftover onion rolls from our Christmas dinner. We thinly sliced one roll, which provided the topping for three cups of soup and added a little extra flavor.
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  1. Jeff says:

    When I make this, I do not add garlic and use butter instead of olive oil to really get the onions caramelized (you can skip the sugar). We typically save the liquid from a beef roast and freeze it to use for stock for the soupe a l’oignon. Cognac is a great taste, but we usually have some nice dry red wine to add to it. Round up a loof of homemade bread – perhaps my sourdough – and you have an excellent meal.

  2. Michele says:

    @Jeff. Yes, you can skip the sugar, but I think it adds a nice amount of sweetness. Also, I have made French onion soup with red wine, but using cognac gave it the most amazing flavor. Although I prefer to be modest, I have to admit that both my husband and I found this to be the best French onion soup either of us has had, and we both have sampled quite a few.
    I agree that the bread you use to top the soup is important. You wouldn’t want to be effort into the soup only to have its flavored diminished by a weak bread.

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