Union House Restaurant French Onion Soup

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  • 3 to 4 pounds Spanish onions, peeled, sliced fine with the grain
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 gallon beef stock (may substitute good-quality paste beef base and 1 gallon water)
  • Salt to taste (omit if using beef base)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup dry sherry, optional (see note)
  • Slices of crusty Italian bread 1/4 inch thick (pieces should be as large as the opening in your serving dishes)
  • Melted butter
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Slices of Swiss or Gruyere cheese (cut 1/4-inch thick and just slightly larger than your serving dishes so cheese rests on rim and seals crouton)
  • Shredded cheese (use equal amounts of sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack)


  1. Sauté onions in butter using 6- to 8-quart uncovered soup pot. Cook over medium heat until onions begin to brown and caramelize. Stir to color evenly and prevent burning. Add brown sugar, decreasing amount if a less sweet soup is desired. Add base if using and mix well. Add strained stock or water, if using base.
  2. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes to develop flavor. Do not overcook onions. Season to taste with salt, if not using beef base, and pepper. Add sherry, if desired.
  3. To make croutons, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Cut slices of bread to fit into soup cups. Place on cookie sheet and drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle with a little garlic powder and generous amount of Parmesan cheese. Bake in preheated oven until cheese is lightly browned. If bread is fresh, keep croutons in a warm place so they will become crisp all the way through.
  5. To serve, spoon soup into individual 8-ounce oven-proof cups. Float crouton on top of each cup of soup. Top each crouton with slice of cheese, making sure slice reaches just over rim of bowl so it will seal down crouton. Top slice of cheese with heaping tablespoon of shredded mixed cheeses.
  6. Set soup cups on tray or cookie sheet and broil in oven 1 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts.

Yield: about 16 side-dish servings or about 8 main-dish servings

For larger servings, use a larger size bowl and cut both bread and cheese slices to fit. Use only sherry you find acceptable for drinking for this recipe. Do not substitute the cooking variety.