How To Carmelize Onions & French Onion Soup

May 3, 2012

I love being off school.

Having no responsibilities, due dates or assignments is really a huge relief. I also just found out last week I was accepted into the Teaching program – I begin in September, and will officially be a teacher in one year! I always loved ‘playing teacher’ when I was younger, and now my childhood dream is going to come true. I love being in school. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the stress of homework, but I always really enjoyed projects and extracurricular activities, and just being in the classroom. So, I’m going back to school, so I can work in a school, forever, pretty much. I love school, but I also love summer vacation. It’s funny, when you think about what you wanted to be when you ‘grew up,’ and then you realize that you have reached that goal, its surreal. Many young kids who wish to be astronauts may not have reached their dreams, and although a teacher is not quite an astronaut, I think it’s pretty awesome that the young role-playing teacher me, will now be the actual real-life teacher. I am both excited and nervous, but this is just another step in life. As I said, this year is going to be really awesome.  Adam and I became an aunt and uncle to a beautiful little niece, we bought a new house, I am graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree, my family is planning a grad party this summer, I’m in the midst of planning a once in a lifetime trip to Europe for July and August, where I will be meeting up with my Nonna in Italy to explore my family’s heritage and bathing in the Tuscan sun, and I will be starting the PDP program in the Fall to become an Elementary school teacher. Whew! Going to be a whirlwind year!

French Onion has always been one of my favourite soups. I remember whenever we went to a family dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory we would get the french onion soup to start. When my dad worked in the restaurant industry he would make delicious french onion, or, so my mom told me. When I was older he would make it at home for special occasions. Since I found out about my dairy allergy I can’t eat the cheese, and I probably shouldn’t eat the bread either due to my wheat allergy. But my mom really felt like this soup today, so I went over to her house and made it for her.

I didn’t eat the soup itself, but I did eat a large scoop of the caramelized onions before we added them to the broth. It was onion heaven. I could it them plain. And I did. They would also be delicious on burgers and hot dogs. Adam is not a fan of onions, but I would definitely make the soup at home again! He will just have to learn to love them.

It’s funny, as onion soup would have been something that the poor would make and eat back in the earliest centuries, as onions were abundent and easy to grow. Now, however, this modern version of the soup is seen as a classic dish, often found as a delicacy soup as a starter or main course.

French Onion soup is pretty easy to make, I based this recipe off of the Pioneer Woman’s recipe found here 

How to Caramelize onions:

The key to caramelizing onions is butter, and steady heat. You have to be patient, and not crank up the heat. You want them to cook slowly and evenly for a period of time to allow them to break down and caramelize in the butter.

Slice up your onions thinly, toss in 1 stick of butter and cook over medium heat.

After about 10 minutes, they will begin to soften and brown. You want them to become quite fragrant and browned. Keep keeping them at this point! If you think it’s too high heat, you can lower it slightly.

This is about 20 minutes, they are really browned with lots of ‘grit’ from the pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high, but not the highest setting.

At this point you can pour in the white wine. It will sizzle, and steam. Allow the wine to reduce for about 5 minutes.

Slightly reduced, keep stirring until almost all of the liquid evaporates. It can take up to 30 minutes for this large of a pan of onions to caramelize and reduce with the wine. It is worth the wait.

Once almost all of the wine is gone, your onions should be ready. They will smell heavenly. Feel free to taste-test before adding to the broth. You’ll want to scrape up the bits from the pan, they are flavourful and will add to the broth. Scrape onions into your broth, and let simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour on low.

Pour into soup bowls

Top with toast

Top with cheese, and broil.

French Onion Soup


  • 1 stick Butter
  • 4-5 whole Large Yellow Onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup (generous) Dry White Wine
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth – low sodium, bought or homemade
  • 4 cups Beef Broth, we had homemade in the freezer that we used.
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 2+ Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Port Wine
  • bread
  • cheese of your choice, Havarti, Gruyere, Emmental

Preparation Instructions

In large pot, add both broths, garlic and a dash of Worcestershire sauce over medium-low heat. Allow to simmer while you cook the onions.

Melt butter in a large heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 20-25 minutes. You want the onions to caramelize, and turn a dark brown colour. Using a wooden spoon stir them occasionally, scraping up the browned bits of butter into the onions. When they look like they are caramelized, at the 20 minutes point, add the 1 cup of dry white wine along with the Worcestershire sauce. Allow it to reduce for another few minutes, until the liquid is almost gone.

Once the onions are cooked, add them to the simmering broth, and simmer on low for another 20 minutes or so, or until you wish to eat. The longer it simmers together, the more flavourful it will be. You can leave it on very low for an hour or so if you like.

To make the bread, sprinkle oil over baguette or bread slice, and broil until browned and crisp on both sides.

To serve, use a french onion soup bowl, or small ramekins or other oven safe bowls and fill with the onion soup, top with a piece of crunchy bread, and top with a few slices of cheese. Place under broiler again until cheese is bubbly. Keep your eye on it. 


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  • Reply Auntie Heas May 3, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    YES this year is going to be Really Awesome! so many Great things Happening for you 🙂 I LOVE French onion soup also! I just might make some too! I like how you have an “assistant” holding the wine ha ha!!

    • Reply Alicia May 4, 2012 at 8:33 AM

      =) I love french onion too, I’ll just have to live without the delicious cheese!!

  • Reply ATasteOfMadness May 3, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    I also love being off school. Although next week I am going in to do a two week practicum in a highschool, because I am also thinking of being a teacher! Very excited, I’ve got to say.
    But this looks absolutely delicious! Never tried french onion soup, but it is definitely on my to-do list!

    • Reply Alicia May 4, 2012 at 8:32 AM

      awesome! Hope your practicum goes well =) I loved working in the elementary school volunteering last year! I was in a grade 3 class, they were very cute

  • Reply DessertForTwo May 6, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    First, congrats on all your big life changes! That’s so exciting! Relish the moment 🙂

    I should also say that I recently ‘reached my goal’ by finishing school & getting a job. At first, it was great–no homework, nothing to do on the weekends. Only working 8 hours/ day, no projects hanging over your head. Then, well, I got a little bored. And stir-crazy. I needed an outlet. So I started a blog! Don’t be surprised if you become even more addicted once beginning your job! 🙂

    • Reply Alicia May 6, 2012 at 9:35 PM

      Thank you Christina! And congrats to you as well!! I LOVE reading your blog and the delicious treats – of course 😉 I do love the idea of not having projects/assignments to work on as of now!

  • Reply SA May 7, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Hi Alicia,
    one of my friends gave me address to your blog. congratulations on your graduation and getting into the PDP program. i had a question about your recipe for French onion soup, do you know if its possible to substitute the white wine with a non alcoholic drink. if you know any, could you please share. i will be very grateful 🙂

    • Reply Alicia May 8, 2012 at 1:50 PM

      Hi there,

      Glad you found my blog =) and Thanks!

      Yes, you can omit the white wine in the french onion soup. Instead of the white wine i would just add about a cup more of either the chicken or beef broth to the soup, not in with the onions. If you want to caramelize the onions a little longer as well, you might add about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar to the onions and let it cook down / reduce as well. The balsamic will caramelize even more and give it a deeper flavouring.

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