Baked French Onion Soup

By CHEF HOWARD KARP for the Flathead Beacon

Are you ready for those cold wintery days and nights? Ready or not, winter has arrived, and my thoughts have turned to my warm comfort food recipes. Rich beefy broth, sweet Spanish onions, olive oil-toasted baguette and melted baked Gruyere cheeses run through my mind. French onion soup is a wintertime favorite, but making this dish true to its roots does have some secrets. From creating a rich beef stock, to slicing the onions properly and slowly caramelizing them, to baking the final soup, I’m sharing those secrets here.




3 oz. unsalted butter
8 large Spanish yellow onions (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
1 Tbsp. salt
2/3 oz. thyme leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh crushed black pepper
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. wondra flour
4 quarts beef stock
Sea salt for taste
1 baguette (2 1/2 inches diameter)
Extra virgin olive oil
3 oz. dry sherry wine
3 oz., grated Gruyere or Comte or Emmentaler cheeses


This process will take time, but the results will be worth the wait. In a stock pot, over medium heat, melt the butter and add the sliced onions and salt (salt will release the sugar from the onions). Stir every 15 minutes for an hour. By this time, the onions will have wilted and released a lot of liquid. It is important to continue the cooking process until the liquid has evaporated. Be careful not to scorch the onions. The goal is to caramelize them by continuing to stir. This process will take up to 4 hours. During the latter part of cooking, add the thyme, crushed black pepper and the bay leaves. When the onions have turned a deep golden brown, mix in the flour. Add the beef stock, and bring to a boil. Simmer for one hour or until soup has reduced to two-and-a-half quarts. Season with salt to taste.


Cut 3/8-inch thick slices from the baguettes. Brush slices with olive oil and bake in the oven 350 degrees until crisp.

To Complete

Bring the onion soup to a simmer, line six onion soup crocks on a baking sheet. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Add one tablespoon of dry sherry to the bottom of each crock. Fill the crocks completely full with the soup. Lay a crouton on top of soup and cover with grated cheese (the soup will probably over flow, but that’s okay as it will allow the cheese to bake and brown nicely). Add enough water to cover the bottom of the sheet pan. Place into the oven and bake for at least 30 minutes or until the cheese begins to brow n.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this recipe. Please send your comments to me at Bon Appétit!

Chef Howard Karp is an instructor at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. For more information about the program, visit