Tuesday, February 7

The Secret to Amazing French Onion Soup

brandied French onion and fennel soup

You know what the secret to amazing French onion soup is? Brandy.

brandy bottle

Next time you make French onion soup, skip the white wine and add brandy instead. You won't taste a strong liquor flavor, but you will notice a complexity and depth of flavor that lingers delicately on your lips.

Brandied French Onion and Fennel Soup
Makes 8 servings
Printable recipe.

Note: The licorice flavored fennel complements the sweet onions and brandy in this soup. If you're not a fennel fan, then add 2 more onions. For a variation, you can also use smoked Gouda or rye bread.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 medium fennel bulbs, finely chopped, about 1 1/2 pounds
5 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced, about 2 pounds
1 cup brandy of your choice
7 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, depending on your likeness
3/4 pound shredded Gruyere cheese
8 thin slices of French bread, toasted

1. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add fennel and onions turning to coat. Cook for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. This allows the onions to "sweat" and become meltingly tender, browned, and sweet. Add brandy and cook for 5 minutes until slightly reduced. Add beef broth, salt, black pepper, and thyme and stir. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Pour soup into individual bowls. Top each with a piece of bread, toasted side down, and top with 1/8 of the shredded cheese. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.

You might also enjoy these onion soup recipes: 
English Onion Soup recipe from Never Enough Thyme
Beef and Onion Soup recipe from The Food in My Beard
Italian Onion Soup recipe from Ms. Adventures in Italy
English Onion Soup with Sage and Cheddar recipe from Erin Cooks


Sylvie said...

Thanks for sharing secrets!

tasteofbeirut said...

sounds like a great plan! Love that soup.

Aggie said...

No lie, I just came back from liquor store to make this for dinner tonight. Got my brandy! My husband loves French onion soup so I'm going to treat him to some for dinner :)

AllThingsYummy said...

Yum, I love french onion soup and always use brandy in it. I've heard cognac is good too.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I like where you're going with this! I was just thinking I hadn't made French Onion soup in a long time. This would be a reason to try again!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Fennel! Great idea. I use fennel in my cioppino, but never thought to use it in French onion soup (though I do add brandy, and oh boy, is it good).

Unknown said...

I absolutely agree with you. In fact, I personally don't believe white wine even belongs in a French Onion Soup recipe. You need robust depth to cut through the richness of the beef broth and slow cooked onions. Well done, and great advice.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

sylvie-My pleasure!

tasteofbeirut-Yay! Thanks.

aggie-I believe you! And thanks so much for the RT! Let me know how it comes out.

allthingsyummy-I'm sure it is.

TW-It's one of those dishes that we all tend to forget about till we have it and fall in love all over again.

lydia-It's a subtle touch, but worthwhile.

culinarycache-Thanks for the thoughtful reply!

GF Gidget said...

I wonder how Sherry would taste? I don't have any Brandy at home, but Sherry I have. Hmmm... I just may have to try it. I love your blog, by the way! ;)


YES!!! i learned this secret about a year ago and have enjoyed THE BEST French Onion Soup since that day - there is simply no turning back!!

Maureen said...

I love cooking with brandy but I've never used it in onion soup. I love onion soup and could eat it every week.

I'm definitely giving this a try. I love secrets!

Nancie McDermott said...

Exactly what I want to cook and even more truthfully, eat, with today's chilly grey skies looming. I have never made this, though I love it; that's about to change, thank you very much.

Christine said...

Outstanding recipe, Susan. I'm not a great fan of onion soup, but with fennel and brandy? I'll bet you'd have a convert. Great photos!

Sprigs of Rosemary said...

I think fennel is the other "secret ingredient" that's been missing the few times I've made onion soup at home. I'm all for the brandy!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

GFGidget-I'm sure sherry would be lovely. If you make it let me know how it comes out.

smith-I agree. I'm a convert.

maureen- I know. My husband said, "Why don't you make this every week?" ;)

nancie-Oh, I actually love making French onion soup. It's such a sensory experience with the smells and changing colors and textures. You're gonna love it.

christine-It'll definitely tempt you.

rosemary-Yes, the fennel snuck in and worked some magic too.

Nicole Antoinette said...

I cannot wait to try this recipe! I love french onion soup!

Lana said...

One of my favorite soups! I usually add some cognac (and dry vermouth, instead of white wine). Fennel is the last of the strong-tasting ingredients that I have not learned to love, but I am working on it:)
Now I have to plan to make this soup ASAP! It's been a while:)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Thanks for sharing the secret Susan. I also love the addition of fennel in this comforting soup.

Anonymous said...

OMG! I made this soup Saturday night for company. It was freakin' ridiculous! The best I ever had. This is going to be a regular in my house now. Thank you so much for the recipe and for making me look like such a great hostess. :) -- Sarah