When the weather starts to cool off, this smoked French onion soup is a go to recipe of mine. The onions are slow smoked, then caramelized with fresh herbs for an unbelievable depth of flavor.
To finish, the onions are deglazed with white wine and simmered with beef stock to further develop that classic French onion soup taste we all love. Each bowl of soup is ladled hot with a toasted baguette slice and a mound of gruyere cheese. Who’s hungry?
Why this recipe works.
You wouldn’t think it , but smoking the onions first gives an extra level of flavor that works so well with this soup. The smokiness of the onions combined with the long caramelization process adds tons of depth and body to enhances the richness of the soup. This dish is a labor of love but the results are more than worth it.
Smoking onions for soup.
Smoking the onions is a very simple process. First cut the tops and bottoms off of each one and peel them.
Then set your smoker to 180°F and smoke for up to 2 hours. There is no need to flip them. The onions will soften and turn brown from the smoking but should still be firm enough that you can slice them.
Ingredients you need for this recipe .
Onions- I like to use yellow onions or Spanish.
Beef broth: Don’t skimp out on this, make sure you use a high quality one.
Olive oil and butter: To help caramelize the onions.
Flour: To help thicken the soup a tad.
Wine: A sherry wine or dry white wine is my go to.
Herbs: Bay leaves and thyme help further develop the flavors.
Seasoning: Salt and pepper of course.
French baguette: To serve right on top of the soup along with the cheese.
Gruyere cheese: Pile it high and let it melt on top of everything.
How to caramelize onions for French onion soup.
To caramelize the onions, first slice them into 1/8″ pieces.
On medium low heat add olive oil and butter to a large pot. Once the butter is melted and has heated up for a few minutes, drop in your onions. You can also add fresh thyme and a bay leaf with the onions.
The fresh herbs will continue to help intensify the flavor of the onions as they are caramelizing.
This process can take 45 minutes to an hour so be patient. You will be tempted to increase the temperature to cook the onions faster but do not rush it! Doing so can lead to them burning instead of caramelizing.
In the first 15-20 minutes the onions will start to soften and slightly change color.
You shouldn’t need to stir them but once or twice at this point. As the onions continue to cook down stir them more frequently to prevent any burning.
They will get a golden brown caramel color and have a jammy like consistency when they are ready.
Making smoked French onion soup.
Truly the beauty of this recipe shows that you can take simple ingredients to make a flavorful dish when prepared in the right way. Start off by peeling the onions and cutting the base and tops. Smoke the onions at 180°F for up to 2 hours. Remove them from the smoker and cut 1/8 inch slices.
At first it will seem like you have a lot of onions but once they start caramelizing they will reduce in size a lot. Place the onions into a large pot on medium low heat with some melted butter and olive oil.
Add fresh thyme and a bay leaf to the onions, season with salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Continue cooking the onions down for about 45 minutes to an hour until they are golden brown and caramelized.
Remove the thyme and bay leaf and turn up the stove to medium heat. Then add some flour and stir that in with the onions. This is going to help thicken the soup a bit and give it some body. Then deglaze with white wine.
The deglazing helps lift up all the brown bits that are stuck to the bottom. You will want to take a wooden spoon and scrape up all of those bits and cook down your onions for a few more minutes.
Now add beef broth and bring the soup up to a boil. Once it is at a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 30 minutes. Your French Onion soup is ready to serve!
How to serve French Onion soup.
Cut your French bread into 1/2 inch slices and toast them in your oven or on the grill. Brush on a little melted butter to each piece of toast.
After you have ladled your smoked French onion soup into a bowl add 1 piece of that toast right on top. Then add a heaping pile of gruyere cheese and place each soup bowl under a broiler for a minute until the cheese has melted and is bubbly, golden brown.
I finish by garnishing with a few thyme leaves and a few crushed red pepper flakes. (Although the red pepper is optional)
How to store French Onion soup.
The truth is French Onion soup is usually better the next day. So if you can make it ahead of time, that’s to your advantage. It will still be delicious either way. To store any leftovers, place the soup in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week. You can reheat the soup back in a pot or just pop it in the microwave to warm up.
If the flavor of the soup isn’t as sweet as you’d like, add a pinch or two of sugar and stir that in. If the soup needs more depth feel free to add some Worcestershire sauce or a few splashes of balsamic vinegar.
For more comfort food check out these recipes:Print
- 5–6 large yellow or Spanish onions
- 6 cups of beef broth
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- A bundle of fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 French baguette sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
- Cut the tops and bottoms of your onions, peel and smoke them at 180°F for 2 hours.
- Remove smoked onions from smoker and slice onions 1/8 inch thick.
- Into a pot or extra large pan, add 2 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons olive oil on medium low heat. Add onions, thyme, bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
- Caramelize onions on medium low for up to an hour until they are soft and golden brown. Stir as needed , scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove thyme and bay leaf.
- Next add flour and stir into the onions to incorporate. Then increase the heat to medium high and deglaze with white wine, scraping the bottom to make sure everything is nice and incorporated. Let the onions cook down with the wine for 2 minutes.
- Add beef broth to the onions, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Cut 1/2 inch slices of French baguette and toast in your oven or grill. Use the remaining butter to brush or spread onto the toast.
- Ladle in hot soup to oven safe bowls, add a little bit of gruyere cheese followed by 1-2 pieces of toasted baguette and a pile of gruyere cheese on top.
- Carefully place the soup bowls under the broiler in your oven and broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese has melted, is bubbly, and has browned some.
- Let the soup cool for a few minutes and enjoy!
- Prep Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Category: Soup
- Method: Smoke
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: Smoked French onion soup, French onion soup, soup, cheesy French onion soup, French onion soup with smoked onions