Chef’s Onion Soup

There are few things in life more comforting than a bowl of soup. When school closed early this past week because of pending snow, I could only think of two things. Lies. Three things. Fresh bread, onion soup, and I need to create my top ten (or top whatever number it may actually be) snow day list. It’s coming. In the meantime, here is the soup.


Chef’s Onion Soup

A note from Chef – 
“My mother would prepare this soup for us on New’s Year Eve. I remember eating it many times at 2 a.m. after all the guests and staff had gone home. I was most definitely restored afterwards. This soup is a classic and is easy to execute. It is the epitome of soul food to me.”

  • Author: a chef’s wife
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
  • Total Time: 2.5 hours
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x


4 T canola or avocado oil
10 c (5 lbs) Spanish onions, thinly sliced
23 garlic cloves, minced
2 cloves (push them into a small piece of carrot, so you don’t have to waste time trying to fish them out at the end)
2 bay leaves
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 c dry, red wine
2 T brandy
10 c beef stock
kosher salt and pepper

For serving:
Gruyere or Swiss Cheese
day old baguette, cubed


In a large soup pot, on medium high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions, 1 T kosher salt, and 2 tsp pepper. Let the onions cook for two minutes undisturbed. Stir and cover. Stir the onions every few minutes, this process is know as smothering. After 45 minutes, the onions should be golden brown. Uncover, and add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and cloves. Sauté for two minutes. Add the red wine and brandy. Lean your head over the pot and take a deep breath. Do it again. Reduce to almost sec (an almost dry, syrupy consistency.) Add the beef stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer with the lid off for forty five minutes. Add salt, pepper and brandy to taste. 

To serve, set your oven to broil. In heat proof bowls, put a handful of day-old cubed baguette. Ladle the soup on top. Cover with cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes, allowing for the cheese to melt and brown. 


A note of caution – when reducing the wine, remember that approaching perfection temps disaster. You must watch the pot to prevent burning.

Chef says the brandy is optional, I disagree.

Chef uses veal stock. Um, it’s out-of-this-world amazing. It’s not for every home cook to roast veal bones all night, then make stock the next day. Store bought beef stock gets the job done, and for a brief moment your sanity is intact.

Chef prefers cabernet or pinot noir. I prefer whatever red wine I have in my hand. 

Keywords: soup, onion, onion soup, comfort food

2 Replies to “Chef’s Onion Soup”

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  2. […] Ramekins – these a great for soup of any kind, but particularly great for onion soup; I also use them as the guide to cut my puff pastry in the chicken pot pie […]

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