It does not get more classic than this French Onion Soup recipe from French chef Jacques Pepin. This recipe comes from his book Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques. I have tried a few different recipes for french onion soup, some more complicated than others. I find that the classic, simple recipe always comes out the best. This recipe is what you would find at any classic French bistro restaurant.
The only thing I do a little different is cook the onions on a lower heat for a longer time. I like the onions very soft and caramelized. I have added both cook times below.
French Onion Soup (adapted from Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques)
4 cups thinly sliced onions (sweet yellow), 3-5 onions depending on size
1 pound good Gruyere or Swiss cheese-grated
3 tbsp butter
10 cups chicken stock or beef stock or a mixture of both (preferably homemade)
1 clove garlic- peeled and minced very fine
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp black pepper (to taste)
2 dozen slices of french bread, cut thin and toasted under broiler
(If you are looking for a gluten free recipe you can toast GF bread or leave out bread all together, it still is delicious)
1. Melt butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add in onions and brown for 5-6 minutes. Stirring occasionally. I cook the onions on medium-low for 15-20 minutes until soft and caramelized.
2. Add in stock, garlic, salt and pepper and boil for 30 minutes.
3. Place 4-5 slices of toasted french bread in each individual oven proof bowl (I use 12 oz soup crocks)
4. Fill each bowl half way with the stock. The bread will soften as it absorbs the liquid. Gradually keep adding stock until the bowls are filled evenly to the top. This is important because the cheese crust must not sink into the bowl.
5. Sprinkle the cheese on top without pushing it into the liquid. You will need at least 2 1/2 ounces per bowl; about 1/2 cup. (The drier the cheese the better)
6. Press the cheese around the edges of each bowl so that when it melts it sticks to the sides and forms a crust that will not sink.
7. Place the bowls on a cookie sheet and bake in 400 degree F oven for 35 minutes, until nicely browned all around. Serve right away but be careful of the hot bowls.