French Onion Soup with Port

Serves: ~4
Cost: ~€2
Preparation time: ~50 minutes
Calories: ~350 calories per serving

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #0B0B61;”]Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good weekend. Today was supposed to be a post about “the joys of England”. I had something all lined up and ready in my head. I’d started making the first part, and the second part I was going to make on Sunday morning. It was going to be awesome, and oh, so delicious. Unfortunately, when I took a look at the first part which had been “in the making” so to speak it hadn’t quite turned out as expected (read: not even close to being what it actually should have been!”). I’ll have to save that post for another day instead. To be honest, it was a rather ambitious idea, but I shan’t dwell on failures (besides, I don’t know for sure it’s failed yet… I need to wait a bit longer and see!).

I have a wonderful long list of English things I just can’t wait to cook up, many of which I’m going to be working on in the week and next weekend – now I just need to find the time to make them all. Speaking of time, I was thinking of changing my posting schedule. Currently I try to post once every three days, but thought maybe I’d switch to a Sunday/Wednesday posting schedule. I think it’s the best idea – I’ll still end up making two posts a week (except for the occasional week when there are three) but it will free up a bit of extra time for me.

Anyway – on to today’s recipe! I’ve seen at least two, maybe three posts for onion soup around the blogs I follow recently. They’ve all been reminding me that I haven’t made the stuff in, literally, years. I think the last time I did was about 6 years ago. A lot of the recipes I saw use red wine; some suggested cognac, but none of them seemed to use any port which I’ve always thought added a beautiful, delicate background sweetness to the dish.

French Onion Soup

When making this, please bear in mind that the stock makes a huge difference to the final flavour. I’d recommend a good home-made stock – either vegetable or beef; it just won’t be the same if you use instant stock, so plan ahead! Enjoy, everyone, and have a great week!

French Onion Soup with Port

[learn_more caption=”Video Recipe”]



French Onion Soup ingredients

  • 2 litres of good Stock
  • 50g Butter
  • 4 tbsps Olive Oil
  • 7 Onions
  • 4 cloves of Garlic
  • 100ml Red Wine
  • 100ml Port
  • 2 tbsps Plain Flour
  • 3 tsps dried Thyme
  • 2 tsps Salt
  • 2 tsps Pepper
  • 4 slices of good Bread
  • 100g Cheese – Gruyère, Emmental, Cheddar etc, grated


  1. Start off by mincing the garlic, and then peel and slice the onions finely. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pan and add the olive oil as well.
    Slicing the onions
  2. When the butter has melted, add the onions, garlic and the thyme. Sauté the onions in the butter and oil and lower the heat slightly. Continue cooking the onions down, stirring regularly, until they have significantly reduced in volume.
    Cooking down the onions
  3. When the onions have cooked down add the flour to the onions and stir well to completely mix the onions with the flour. Add the stock, salt and pepper and then stir. Pour in the red wine and then bring almost to the boil, before lowering the temperature, covering, and simmering lightly for about 20 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse through the stock.
    Adding in the stock
  4. After the soup has simmered for some time remove the lid and pour in the port and then stir. Remove the soup from the heat and allow to stand for a couple of minutes while you toast one side of the bread.
    Toasting the bread
  5. Serve the soup into bowls, place the bread toasted side down into the soup and sprinkle liberally with the grated cheese before placing under the grill / broiler for a couple of minutes until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately and enjoy!
    French Onion Soup

    Tasty to the last drop


  1. says

    Well.. whole you find the time to present us those wonderful recipes, that I know will knock our socks off, I will just enjoy the wonderfulness of this soup. You know French Onion is my favorite and I am already drooling over here. Now you’ve gone and done it.. I’m hungry again lol. You foodie bloggers always rush to make me hungry LOL

  2. says

    My stomach just made noise. I should be in bed by now… looking at this delicious French onion soup, I’m not sure if I can go sleep with empty tummy. Looks pretty easy to make. Bookmarked! I’m looking forward to your “The Joys of England” series!!

    • says

      Thanks Nami! I hope you decide to give this a try, it’s super easy to make. Once you’ve made the base you can adjust the flavour a lot by playing with different herbs and the like, to really adapt it to your ideal flavour!

  3. says

    Hi Charles,

    One of my favourites but so nice to see a different twist on it. Just what I need at the moment with my cold-and I have some Port left over from Christmas…Only two onions though in the cupboard so will have to do a mini version.

    Great-that’s supper planned now!

    • says

      Hi GD – thanks so much. Port does give a wonderful flavour. Another alternative is sherry, but I can never find that in France so for me, Port it is :)

      • says

        Hi Charles. Would you mind if I used your idea of some Port in another dish I am concocting tonight together with the usual red wine. I will of course give credit to you for the idea!

  4. says

    I adore french onion soup but have never thought to add port to it…I like the idea! I often cheat and add a little marmite to chicken stock to get a good depth of flavour (we can´t really get hold of beef here, let alone beef bones to make a good stock). This soup always brings back happy Parisian memories for me :)

    • says

      Hi Chica – Marmite’s a great idea to richen a stock, and fully vegetarian too. Alternatively you can stick in some Bovril if you have some (aaah, liquid cow!). I often add Marmite to stocks and stews and it’s a great way to use the remaining scraps in a bottle too. Half-fill the bottle with hot water – shake it around to get all the marmite out and then pour directly into the soup!

  5. says

    Hope you’ll find more awesome and interesting recipes to share. Mouthwatering soup! =)

    • says

      Thanks Raquel – I’ll be making quite a collection of fun things on the weekend to share with everyone – I’m looking forward to posting about them!

  6. says

    Every single onion soup post I’ve seen over the last few days have got me drooling and this is no exception … DROOOL!!
    I’ve never had it with port … good excuse to go get a bottle :)
    Looking forward to “Joys of England”.

    • says

      Thanks Ping – port makes a great background flavour. I also like it with a bit of Sherry instead, but I can’t find sherry in France so Port does a similar job! 😀

  7. says

    ah Onion soup is always so comforting. One of my absolute favourites. We make it differently. I agree a good home made stock is nessesary if not crucial for a well rounded soup taste experience. We use always good white wine for the onion soup. I never thought of making a onion soup with red wine.

    thx for sharing Charles!

  8. says

    Charles, I have also noticed onion soup was quite popular recently, but every person makes a different one, so I am very glad you have posted your version. I love onion soup, but frankly have never made it on my own… I have no idea why. I love your idea to add port because port and onion are very good friends: I make every year jars of confit d’oignon with port and even though I have made it with other alcohols, port seems to be the best pairing.
    Beautiful photos! Especially the one with the raised spoon :-)
    Looking forward to read about the English recipes.

    • says

      Thanks Sissi for your kind comment – I have so many onions right now – I must make some confit d’oignon I think! I mentioned in reply to some other people that sherry also goes really well with Onion Soup, (also beautifully with chicken and game soups!) but I can’t find Sherry anywhere in France. Looking for the stuff here is like trying to find a fish and chip takeaway shop in a typical French town-centre 😀 – Can you find it in Switzerland?

      • says

        Hi Charles, I’m sure you should find it at cavistes… I buy it in Switzerland in supermarkets, but there are many people with Spanish origins here. It might sound silly, but maybe in Frence the bottles are only marked in Spanish and not English? (Xerez/Jerez). My French family always has a bottle of Jerez, so I’m sure it must be sold in some wine shops (they wouldn’t buy it in a supermarket I think).

  9. says

    Oh and I bet that’s some of your homemade bread tossed into that delicious looking soup! Can you believe I’ve never had an onion soup. And I love onions! I need to fix this. Sorry about your recipe over the weekend. We had one of those last week too. I think I kind of saved it, but it sure wasn’t what I had intended. Looking forward to your English recipes and I hear ya on needing to free up some more time. 😉

    • says

      Hi Kristy – indeed it’s some of my bread – so yummy!

      You have to try the soup – I can understand if you hated onions like a friend of mine, but if you don’t… 😮 You’re totally missing out – it’s so yummy!

      Do let me know if you decide to give it a try :)

  10. says

    I admire you and all the others who commit to a “schedule” of posting. I can’t get myself that organized! Love, love, love French Onion Soup and seeing yours on top of some of the other on line has cinched the deal for me. I have the homemade chicken stock, just need to make the soup! The port in this sounds amazing.

    • says

      Hi Betsy – I bet the chicken stock would make it wonderful – especially with the port. I sometimes put port or sherry in my chicken soup which is a great flavour addition!

  11. says

    I love the last shot, Charles! I made French Onion Soup for my nephew and I did make a demi-glace using ox-tail bones. He was even raving about it to his mom! It’s really one of my favourite soups and likely the most splurge compared to others soups because of the calories. Very nice indeed.

  12. says

    Hi Charles. I love onion soup and I pretty much make it the same way, using a vegetable stock with some tamari, but I always add sherry, not sure of the difference with port, I don’t believe I have ever had port. Your photos are lovely and make a person want to get up and make this delicious soup. Have a wonderful week.

    • says

      Hi Suzi – I love sherry. To be honest, normally I would add this, but I’ve never once seen Sherry for sale in France so I’ll need to stick the port alas – the flavour is similar, so I don’t mind 😀

  13. says

    FRENCH ONION SOUP!!!!! charles you’ve really hit it with this. i go nuts for this when I went to paris the past summer. that, and this certain spinach quiche from this certain bakery by the hostel I was staying at.

      • says

        Now that I think of it, it was probably 2 summers ago! sheesh how time flies. We were staying very near the Montmarte area, if that helps! haha!

        • says

          Haha, not so much – there must be hundreds of places there to say, so alas no clue :) Let me know if you ever remember the street name.

  14. says

    Charles this looks amazing and simple too. I have never tried onion soup, well I took a sample once at Panera Bread so does that count. Soup must be on everyone’s mind!

  15. says

    This looks delicious! I actually haven’t had French onion soup in a couple years. I remember making it a while back when I first started cooking and disliking the red wine taste as a kid. I think it’s time that I try it again, now that my taste buds are a little bit more mature 😀

    • says

      Hi Kyleen – haha, to be honest, I never used to use wine. As long as you have a good, meaty stock the wine is just embellishment.

      Let me know if you try it again though. Hope you enjoy it :)

  16. says

    This looks SO good, I love it! I have a great bottle of Port right now, I have been dying to open it (especially before it gets too hot here) the only problem is every time I open a bottle of Port it tends to go to waste because we can never drink it… now I know what I will do with ours :) THanks Charles!

    • says

      Thanks Jen – I find I can easily have a bottle of port kicking around for years in my kitchen – it never seems to go bad! It’s a good idea to use it up for something though – I hope you enjoy the soup :)

  17. says

    Hi Charles, too funny, I just did a French onion soup post over the weekend. Your version is lovely (much lighter than mine ;-)) – the Port is a brilliant addition and I love how the bread is peeking through under the scrumptious cheese. Fabulous step by step photos too… right up there with your cheese fondue post! (isn’t winter great that way? We have to have some benefits after all… :)).

    • says

      Thanks so much Kelly for your kind comments :) Did you post your onion soup post yet? I had a look but couldn’t see it yet…

      I agree – winter should be all about the melted cheese 😀 I used to make these quite a lot. They were a good thing to make when I was a poor student. Now I can eat it out of pleasure, instead of necessity 😀

      • says

        No, haven’t posted it yet and am not entirely happy with the photos 😉 (you know how it goes…) – we’ll see if I have the time/energy to recreate it with more photos or just go with what I have… hard to beat melted cheese for a warming winter meal…mmm…:).

  18. says

    Well, I’m not sure what you were going to post…but this has my name all over it!! I love a good onion soup and don’t recall ever using Port, which I do love. You’re right about the good stock and I think I have some in my freezer, so this is definitely going on my weekend plans. As far as your posting schedule, I should be better at regulary posting, but I agree like you I like to have some time for me…this truly can become a 24/7 passion!!

    • says

      Thanks Linda – I’ll try and post a variation of what I was going to make on the weekened perhaps – one has to be disciplined to make time for family and personal life. As you say, one could easily get caught up in this around the clock 😀

  19. says

    I made French onion soup from scratch … once. It was just too much effort for the results in my case, but I can admire the effort you put into yours. :)

    • says

      Hi A_Boleyn – I find the soup pretty low-effort compared to other soups. At it’s very basic level it’s just “fry onions, add stock, done” – the other steps and ingredients are purely to refine the flavour and bring more pleasure to the eating and prepation experience.

  20. says

    Look forward to your English recipes/posts! I’ve always been curious about the cuisine. And GET OUT! Seriously. This onion soup looks divine, Charles. It’s my dad’s favorite soup. He’d be a very happy camper if I came home and made this for him. 😉

    • says

      Thanks Caroline – I hope I’m able to show you some good English things. I know something I’m going to make this weekend is one of my favourite things ever. I hope I can make it look appetizing at least 😀

  21. says

    This looks delicious! I love the cheese on top, it must taste so good…
    But wanted to ask about the toast – is it a tradition to put it on top of the soup? It’s very unusual to me, but I’ve see the recipes with a toast on top already, so it must be something well known?

    • says

      Hi Marianna – it’s common to gratinate the soup with cheese. The toast just acts as a float, which keeps the cheese in place, otherwise it might sink down into the soup, especially when hot and molten!

  22. says

    Sorry to hear about your kitchen disaster but we all have those days. Looking forward to seeing all your posts of British recipes – as we head towards the Olympics all eyes will be on all things British and cuisine won’t be left out. Great soup. I love your big pot – must get me one of those. I think French onion soup is my favourite soup.

    • says

      Thanks Charlie – I hope Brits don’t go out of their way to try and sell Fish ‘n’ Chips too hard to the world. We already have a bad reputation with our heavy fruit puddings and boiled meats. Would be nice if we could use the opportunity to better our image a bit!

    • says

      Ick – you gotta have a good cheese! I gotta be true to my british roots and say you can’t go wrong with a good strong cheddar 😀

  23. says

    Oooh, for the comforts of the good ol’ onion soup!:) You know, I do envy you for staying so near England, France and all the interesting places which offer so much diversity in their cuisines (alright, the place where I came from was not too bad either), and you can just go there anytime…hehe:D

  24. says

    I actually made my own beef stock but in future, I’d buy the best I could afford, if I were going to make it again. That WOULD save a lot of time.

    Of course, the last soup I made probably took me 15 min including the time required to boil the water to cook the soba noodles in. :) While doing that, you could bake off a pre-made souffle and have a quick supper on the table.

    • says

      I tend to put stock on late on a Friday or Saturday night so I can just leave it simmering away, before packing it up and then freezing it – I guess if I was making it right before then it would take a lot longer.

      • says

        That sounds like a well organized plan to make stock. I’d not made beef stock before (chicken is my thing) so I didn’t have a lot of prior knowledge about what to do. Also, I am a new devotee of caramelized onions (finally got it right after Greg posted the technique last year) and now have lots of onions for focaccia, pizza etc in my freezer.

        And on a final note, I think you were a bit chintzy on the cheese, Charles. I like to pile it on. :) Getting through the raft of cheesy toasted bread is the best part of eating french onion soup, in my not so humble opinion.

        • says

          LOL – I’ll let you in on a secret – it’s all the cheese I had – I already had to grate in a load of parmesan to make it look less paltry!

          Some people actually caramelise their onions down when making this soup. It’s delicious but the problem is it takes forever and you need to use about a thousand onions because they shrink down to nothing at all, but I agree – I adore caramelised onions too! Sooo yummy :)

  25. says

    I absolutely love french onion soup, and yours looks amazing!! I’ll take a bowl of it, please! :) I’ve made it a couple times myself, but never with homemade stock. I can only imagine how much better that would make it. I should really start making my own stock like everyone else… hehe

    • says

      Thanks Stefanie! You should definitely make your own stock. Every time you peel carrots, trim leeks, cabbage etc – just shove all the trimmings into a bag into the freezer. Once a week, take it out and defrost it, boil it up for a couple hours with an onion and you’ve got some awesome stock. I usually make mine friday or saturday nights – it just cooks itself and needs no effort. Afterwards, you can freeze the stock again for another day – so easy and delicious!

  26. says

    Hi, Charles! Your soup looks marvelous! I will have to try port next time…it must give a wonderful layer of flavor to the broth. My last batch was made with chicken broth, but a homemade beef is certainly the way to go! Thanks for sharing your delicious recipe~

    • says

      Ah, white wine is grand too – I never tried it, but it seems a popular alternative. I do think the darker liquors give it a richer colour though, which I personally appreciate in onion soup :)

  27. says

    I love french onion soup, Charles and yours sounds wonderful. I have had it all over the world and had it prepared so many different ways. I don’t think anyone has asked or you have mentioned what kink of port you used in your recipe. I’m thinking it was probably tawny or did you use ruby instead.

    • says

      Hi Karen – thanks so much! No-one asked, indeed – it was a tawny I used. We had some friends over for dinner before Christmas and they thought they couldn’t come because they had another friend staying with them but we told them to come along with him – the more the merrier. Well, it just turned out that their friend was from Portugal, and happened to bring us along a beautiful bottle of tawny port!

  28. says

    I love your recipe for French onion soup especially the grated mixed cheese. I’ve had some bad onion soups at restuarants around here with too much cheddar cheese on top and it doesn’t do justice to the wonderful brothy onion flavor-or so I think. But I love the way you’ve served this soup with just enough bread and the cheese:)

    • says

      Thanks Malli – I agree… I’m all in favour of a bit of cheese, but when it’s completely draped in cheese I gotta say it definitely detracts from the rich flavours of the soup itself :)

  29. says

    Next to garlic soup, French onion soup is my favorite! I’ve never made it because I’ve never been able to find a recipe that sounded right. Well, I think I’ve found it! You’re right – a good beef stock and the red wine and port would definitely provide the right flavor because it’s all in the stock. Thanks for sharing this fabulous recipe!

    • says

      Thanks MJ – Some people like to cook the onion down a lot and completely caramelise it, which I think sounds wonderful – I’m going to try this next time myself, especially since I have a giant sack of onions in my cupboard :)

      • says

        Just slice a baguette or some other crusty, white bread into 1/2 inch slices. Combine Dijon mustard and salted butter and spread on the slices. Top with chopped (fully cooked) ham and grated Gruyere cheese. sprinkle a little nutmeg, salt and pepper over the top. Bake at 350 degrees F until toasty and melty. (10 minutes). enjoy! xo

  30. says

    OOOOOHHHHHH! I’ve been hankering’ to make French Onion Soup and didn’t during soup month at the Orange Bee as I don’t have the bowls that can go into the oven. Now I”m on the look out for just the right ones. Bookmarking this!

    • says

      Hi Linda – I’m not sure if my bowls were supposed to go in the oven or not. One of the ones I put in… it has a red glaze… well, let’s just say it was looking very… deep crimson when it came out from the oven. The colour gradually returned to normal as it cooled, but it had me worried all the same 😀

  31. says

    Believe it or not, I have never tried onion soup in my life…! The idea just never really appealed to me to have a bowl of soup full with onions ;), but now looking at your recipe, I realise that it’s much more than just onions, the soup actually looks very good, I love the toast on top… :)!!

    • says

      Hi CG – you have to try it! It’s so much more than just a bowl of onions in liquid. It’s really rich, satisfying… I tell you, if it’s cold outside, nothing will warm you faster than a bowl of this :)

  32. says

    Dear Charles,

    This is truly one of my favourite western style soups. We did a French onion soup last week but we used a dry white wine and a splash of brandy though, not sure if it’s classic French but it was truly delicious especially with those cheese croutons.

    • says

      Hi Chopinand – I think brandy is quite common… it also gives a wonderful flavour. I’m really curious to what it’s like with white wine though. For me, red wine has always been the logical choice.


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