Food You Can Eat: Onion Soup Gratiné

Tell me what you see when you look into the cheese.

First things first:  The title of the soup is just Fancy Chef Speak for “French Onion Soup.”  This recipe is from The New Professional Chef, which is the textbook that students of the Culinary Institute of America use (and probably pay through the nose to obtain), which makes the pretentiousness official.  For the record, I picked this book up used for four bucks—suckers!  However, it is a very simple recipe that anyone can do, no matter their level of skill.

A caveat before we get started:  I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site that Mrs. Butcher wanted to order twice as many onion starters as we typically get, and that it has turned into a huge pain in the ass.  One of the major problems is that I’ve not been able to thin the ranks of the onions and leeks fast enough to let the remaining plants bulb up nicely for harvest.  So, I’m using this recipe to pull all of the immature onions and leeks as I can, which means that this soup will look very differently from what you will be doing.  But, the process is essentially the same.

This is about 30 minutes’ worth of prep, right here.

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 Lbs. Onions, sliced thinly (I recommend red onions for this soup)

2 Oz. Clarified Butter

1 Gal. Beef Stock

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Crusty Bread or Croutons

1.25 Lbs. Gruyère Cheese (Do not cheap out and get Swiss cheese.  It is not the same at all, either in flavor profile or in how it melts.  Just spend the extra few bucks and get the real thing.)

Sauté the onions in the clarified butter over medium heat until caramelized.  This will take a long time—anywhere from 35-45 minutes.  Stir the onions occasionally at first, and then more frequently as they cook down and start to stick to the bottom of the pot.  Add a little more butter if necessary to keep the onions from burning.

Before cooking for 40 minutes.
After cooking for 40 minutes.

Deglaze the pot (Fancy Chef Speak for pouring liquid into a hot pan) with the stock and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom.  Add the salt and pepper.  A case can be made for adding a little dried mustard and thyme, but it ultimately depends on how flavorful your beef stock is. 

Simmer for around an hour for the flavors to come together.  In the meantime, if you are using crusty bread instead of croutons, slice a few pieces off and toast them.  Slice your gruyere—do NOT shred it—and set aside.  This is the point at which you will have realized your kitchen is incomplete without a proper cheese slicer.  My kitchen has two.

When the soup is ready, ladle the soup into bowls, place the toasted bread or croutons on top of each serving and place the cheese on top of everything.  Place the bowls in a broiler or salamander (which is not what you think it is) until cheese is bubbling and slightly browned.

Before broiling. After broiling is the header image.

Serve with a microgreen or spring mix salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and watch a bunch of snooty French films.

About butcherbakertoiletrymaker 581 Articles
When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.


  1. This is one of my favorite soups, the perfect comfort food. With fall just around the corner I’ve been thinking of making a pot. Your mushroom soup was so good I’ll try your version of French Onion too. 

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