This easy French onion soup without wine is perfect for anyone who wishes to avoid alcohol. My flavorful soup is loaded with sweet caramelized onions swimming in a hearty broth and topped with the classic toasted baguette covered in gooey cheese. It has everything you crave, and nothing you don't!
What is French Onion Soup?
French onion soup is a classic soup served as a staple in restaurants all across the world. It wouldn't be a stretch to say this is one of the world's most popular soups. Although it has been around for ages, chefs interested in French cooking, such as Julia Child, helped boost its popularity in the 1960s. It most commonly consists of tender onions in a flavorful broth spiked with a splash of wine, served piping hot with a toasted slice of French bread covered with Gruyere cheese melted under the broiler.
Do I have to use alcohol in French Onion soup?
A traditional French onion soup recipe is commonly flavored with wine, and sometimes cognac or brandy. Alcohol adds complexity to the flavor of the soup, but it is not required. You can absolutely make your French onion soup without wine or alcohol of any kind.
If you wish to compromise, a small splash of white wine vinegar would be the ideal substitute for wine in French onion soup. It would add acidity and brightness to the soup. However, my recipe omits it completely to accommodate readers wishing to avoid alcohol of all sorts.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions
- Butter - I like using butter to caramelize onions, but you can also add olive oil if you would like.
- Onions - Yellow onions or sweet onions are recommended.
- Sugar - Sugar will help caramelize the onions and add sweetness.
- Garlic - I prefer fresh garlic cloves, but garlic powder can be substituted.
- All purpose flour - This thickens the broth.
- Beef stock - You can use salted or unsalted beef stock. I like using unsalted because it gives me more control over the salt levels because I can always add more salt at the end. Beef broth is a great substitute as well.
- Worcestershire sauce - Adds to the depth of flavor of the broth.
- Bay leaf
- Fresh ground black pepper
- French Baguette
- Gruyere cheese - Other kinds of cheese such as Swiss cheese is an equally good substitute to make your cheesy toast, otherwise use Provolone cheese.
How to make it
The secret to the best French onion soup recipes is properly caramelizing the onions. There is absolutely no way to rush this step. The more time you take to coax out the sugars, the more flavor you will add to your soup.
It is best to use a large pot, or a saute pan with a wide bottom also works. This gives the onions more surface area to make contact with, which will improve their browning. Melt the butter into the pot set over medium heat, and add the raw onion along with the sugar and salt. You only need to stir the onions every five minutes or so for approximately 30 minutes. The onions are well caramelized when they are sticky and a deep golden brown.
When the onions appear to be just about done caramelizing, add the minced garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant. Then the flour can be sprinkled in. It is best to reduce the heat to low and stir the onions to prevent the flour from scorching.
After the flour cooks for three minutes, add the beef stock and scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate any burnt fond into the broth. Then add your Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, and black pepper, and let the soup simmer for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes it is ready to serve. However, classic French onion soup is always topped with a toasted slice of French bread, covered in shredded cheese, then placed under a broiler until you have deliciously melty cheese. Soup crocks are perfect to use for this.
Tip: Set your soup crocks on a baking sheet for stability as the cheese melts under your broiler.
How to Store Leftovers
My French onion soup recipe without wine is great to make in advance because the flavors continue to improve as it rests in the refrigerator. Just be sure to store the soup in an airtight container and enjoy it within five days.
Leftover French onion soup can easily be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. Simply heat it until it is warmed through, then top the hot soup with a toasted baguette and cheese.
More French Onion Recipes
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French Onion Soup without Wine
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ pounds thinly sliced onions approximately 2 large onions
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic minched
- 1 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups beef stock
- 1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 4 slices of French bread toasted
- ½ pound grated Gruyere cheese or use Swiss or Provolone cheese
- Melt butter in a wide bottomed pot set over medium heat then add sliced onions, sugar, and salt.
- Slowly caramelize the onions until they are a deep brown color, stirring occasionally to ensure they caramelize evenly. For the best flavor, this cannot be rushed. Expect this to take 30 minutes or more.
- Once the onions have almost finished caramelizing, add the minced garlic and cook for two more minutes.
- Reduce to low heat, sprinkle in the flour, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring to prevent the flour from burning. Then add the beef stock and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen up any burnt on bits.
- Add Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, and black pepper, and bring the soup to a simmer. Let simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.
- Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls and place toasted baguette slices and grated cheese on top of the soup. Place under a broiler until the cheese has melted then serve immediately.
Planning to make this soon! A couple questions: 1. If I were to use store bought stock, what brand do you recommend? And also, this is 709 calories per serving?
Fox Valley Foodie
I typically buy Swanson, but I haven't bought a brand yet that I've been unhappy with. The calories are calculated per serving. It is always worth doing your own calculations as well if nutrition information is important for your own dietary reasons.
This is absolutely the best onion soul I have ever tasted and thanks to you I MADE IT!!!
Followed the instructions to the letter and def going to make it again soon. Only change I will make is to cut back somewhat on the salt amounts. I like salted food but found this to be slightly in excess at least for my taste