French Onion Soup

French onion soup is a comfort food classic! In it’s most basic form this soup is an elegantly simple combination of onions, beef broth, bread and cheese.  Here we give you all the know-how you need to make this French bistro staple in your own kitchen - from your own homemade beef broth to a delicious bowl of soup topped with bread and bubbling cheese. This recipe can also be easily modified to be vegetarian or vegan.  Beef broth is easily substituted with vegetable broth and cheese can be omitted.  Remember, when you’re shopping for the key ingredient – onions- to choose organic onions.

The Science

A recent study published in the journal Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that organic onions had more antioxidant activity and 10 – 50% more flavonoids than conventional onions. While flavonoids are not a vitamin or mineral essential for human growth research suggests that they may have protective properties against illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This study was particularly notable because the onions that were tested (organic and conventional red and yellow onions) were grown in the same location for 6 years allowing the researchers to account for differences in chemicals that might be driven by climactic variation across time or environmental differences across sites – all factors that are also known to impact flavonoid content and can blur the true effect of management practices on antioxidant levels in crops.

The Recipe


Homemade Beef Broth Ingredients

  • 4lbs of beef bones. Any beef bones will do. Beef knuckle bones are cheap and readily available from any butcher just remember to have them cut into large pieces to expose the marrow.
  • 12 cups of water
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste

Broth Directions

Preheat the oven to 400. Place the beef bones in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, flipping them once half way through.

Combine water, beef bones, carrots, celery, garlic and peppercorns in a large stock pot. Bring the mixture to a boil.  Once it has reached a boil cover the pot and simmer on low for a minimum of 6 hours and preferably 8-12 hours. Add water as necessary to ensure that the bones and vegetables remain covered.

Let the broth cool.  Remove the bones and discard.  Then strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer to remove the vegetables and spices. Salt to taste.

Soup Ingredients

  • 4 large organic yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 6 cups of organic beef broth (homemade or store bought. You can also substitute with chicken or vegetable broth)
  • 4 tsp of organic butter
  • 2 organic bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dry thyme
  • 2 cups of dry red wine
  • 1 baguette
  • Sliced provolone cheese

Soup Directions

In a large sauce pan combine the butter, thyme, bay leaves and onions.  Cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and caramelized about 40 minutes.

Add the beef broth, and red wine to the onion mixture and bring to a boil.  Once the soup is boiling reduce heat and simmer the soup, uncovered for about one hour.

To serve, cut the baguette into slices that are about 1 inch thick.  Place oven safe soup bowls on a cookie sheet and ladle the soup into the bowls. Place a baguette slice on top of the soup and top the bread slice with a slice of provolone cheese.  Place the cookie sheet with the soup bowls under the broiler for about 3 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble and slightly brown. Keep a close eye on your soup at this point.  Once things begin to burn under the broiler they burn fast!  If you don’t have oven safe bowls just melt the cheese onto the baguette under the broiler and place the cheesy toasts on top of your soup before serving.


Banner Photo Credit: Sheri Silver;

health, antioxidants, french onion soup, onion, flavonoid, vegan version