French Onion Soup For Two

4.70 from 30 votes
1 hour 30 minutes
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French Onion Soup is a classic that’s always in season!  This version is scaled perfectly for a lovely date night dinner for two. Start your romantic meal with this lovely soup, then serve these over-the-top Beef Tenderloin Fillets and Creme Brulee for dessert!

“This. Was. Amazing. It tasted as good as I had hoped it would! I love that it’s a smaller quantity, too.”

Photo of French Onion Soup with cheesy croutons on beige and black-striped napkin.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

Sharing one of my all-time favorite soups that is most definitely served across France!

The onion is a humble ingredient that usually serves to provide flavor to other dishes.  Soupe a l’Oignon, simply known as French onion soup, elevates this culinary workhorse to star status like these Roasted Onions and makes a luxurious bistro-inspired meal for two.

Onions are caramelized with herbs to a rich golden brown then simmered in a rich red wine-infused broth and topped with crusty, cheesy bread!

Caramelizing onions is definitely a labor of love.  However, the result is well worth it!

Let’s make it!

Photo of French Onion Soup for Two on black striped napkin with spoon lifting out some of the soup.

How to Make French Onion Soup for Two:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this French onion soup recipe along with how to prep. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Photo of ingredients for French Onion Soup for Two in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Onions: Use conventional yellow or sweet onions, not red or white. Red onions are better raw and white onions are sharper than yellow.
  • Olive Oil and Butter? Yes. Because butter has a tendency to burn, you want to combine it with olive oil. No need to use expensive olive oil, a good average olive oil will do. Ghee would be a great substitute.
  • Red Wine and White Wine? The red wine gets the flavor party started and a touch of dry white wine (or dry sherry) adds acidity and balance so the soup is not too sweet. NON-ALCOHOLIC SUBSTITUTE: Use half pomegranate juice and half water for the red wine and white wine vinegar for the white wine.
  • Beef Broth: A good quality beef broth or stock is important for French Onion Soup.  However, a good chicken broth, vegetable or mushroom broth may be substituted.
  • Gruyere Cheese: Gruyere is a Swiss or Alpine cheese with a sweet, nutty and salty flavor. It melts beautifully and adds savoriness without overpowering the rest of the ingredients. A less expensive alternative would be Emmental or Grand Cru.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Melt the butter and oil together in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onions. Give them a good stir to coat them with the fat…
Photo of sliced onions in white Dutch oven.
  • Cover and cook on medium-low for 10 minutes or so or until the onions begin to wilt and release some of their moisture. Give it a stir a couple of times as you don’t want the onions to EVER burn.
  • Salt the onions, and add the bay leaf and fresh thyme.
Photo of partially cooked onions with thyme and bay leaf in white Dutch oven.
  • Leave uncovered, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring often so the onions brown evenly and they are a rich golden brown color, about 40 to 50 minutes more.
  • Stir frequently and keep an eye on them so they don’t burn because they’ll turn bitter.
  • After 40 to 50 minutes or so, they should look like this! Golden, sweet, caramelized onions!
Photo of caramelized onions in white Dutch oven.
Caramelized onions in stainless steel skillet.
  • Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
  • Add the garlic and red wine and cook until the wine is almost evaporated.
  • Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.
Photo of onions in white Dutch oven with red wine added.
  • Add the beef broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or so until it’s slightly reduced.
  • Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  • Add the white wine or dry sherry, starting with 1 tablespoon. Taste and add more if needed.
Photo of finished French Onion Soup in white Dutch oven.

This luxurious soup is finished with a topping of thick bread slices and melted Gruyere cheese. To do that:

  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Cut a small baguette into thick slices on an angle then top with shredded Gruyere cheese.
Photo of 9 slices of French bread with cheese on top before placing in the oven.
  • The first and easiest way is to place the bread slices on a baking sheet, top them with the grated cheese, broil for several minutes and serve atop the soup.
  • The second way is to serve the soup gratinéed or baked in OVENPROOF bowls.  Toast the bread at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes, turning once. Place the croutons over the soup, sprinkle with cheese and broil briefly to brown the cheese.
  • Serve immediately either way.
Photo of two bowls of Photo of French Onion Soup for Two with toasted bread and cheese on the top.

Lovely, cheesy oniony goodness! French Onion Soup for Two is the perfect starter for a romantic, bistro-inspired dinner!

Photo of French Onion Soup for Two on black striped napkin garnished with the bread and thyme leaves.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • TIPS FOR CARAMELIZING ONIONS: Flavor-wise, there is no substitute for the low-and-slow stovetop method.
    • I’ve tried numerous ways to speed up the caramelizing process, including doing a large batch in a slow cooker and adding a pinch of sugar.  The result was brown onions with absolutely NO flavor!
    • I’ve tried salting the onions right away and also not salting the onions until they were done.  Both took between 45 minutes to 1 hour to achieve a rich, golden brown color.  I now salt the onions after they’ve softened up a bit and focus on their flavor rather than the time it takes to caramelize them.
    • Caramelized onions freeze well, so you may want to double or triple the onions to have them ready for another meal of this soup or for other recipes.
  • HOW TO KEEP FROM CRYING WHEN CUTTING ONIONS
    • Refrigerating onions first or placing them in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes will slow the flow of the sulfur enzymes that are released when the onion is cut.
    • When working with a large volume of onions, place a small fan nearby to blow the tear-producing enzymes away from you.
    • Cut close to your stovetop exhaust fan or near an open window.
    • Wear swimming goggles.
    • Place a lit candle on your cutting board. The flame helps to burn off the sulfur compounds.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the difference between onion soup and French onion soup?

Onion soup usually contains a combination of onions and uses any type of stock or broth. French onion soup is traditionally made with yellow onions and is always made with beef stock or broth.

Can you make French onion soup ahead of time?

Yes, you absolutely can! Make the soup up to two days ahead of serving. Cool thoroughly and refrigerate. Reheat on the stovetop until heated through. Make the crouton topping when ready to serve.

Can French onion soup be frozen?

This soup or just the caramelized onions will freeze beautifully.  Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave.  Reheat on the stovetop until heated through.  Make the crouton topping when ready to serve.

Photo of French Onion Soup for Two with spoon lifting out some of the soup.

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French Onion Soup for Two - Close-up shot with spoon lifting out some of the soup

French Onion Soup for Two

4.70 from 30 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
French Onion Soup is a classic that is always in season! This version is scaled perfectly for a lovely dinner for two!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Soups and Stews
Cuisine French
Servings 2
Calories 683 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large yellow onions - about 2 pounds, halved and thinly sliced (8-9 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cups beef broth or stock - preferably low sodium
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons dry white wine or dry sherry - optional and if needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1 small sourdough baguette - sliced into 4 thick pieces, ends discarded
  • 1/4 pound grated Gruyere cheese

Instructions
 

  • Heat a Dutch oven or another heavy pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the olive oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the onions, stirring to coat with the fat.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 10 minutes to soften them and to help bring out some of the moisture, stirring several times.
  • Add the salt, bay leaf and fresh thyme. Leave uncovered, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring often so the onions brown evenly. Cook until the onions are a rich brown color, about 40-50 minutes more.
  • Add the garlic and cook briefly for approximately 30 seconds. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
  • Add the red wine, bring to a boil and cook 3-4 minutes or until almost evaporated.
  • Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the beef broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 8-10 minutes or until reduced slightly.
  • Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper. Add the white wine or sherry, starting with 1 tablespoon. Add more to taste if needed. Keep warm.
  • Preheat broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Top the bread with cheese. Broil until melted and beginning to brown, 1-2 minutes.
  • To serve, ladle into bowls and top with cheesy croutons. Alternatively, toast the bread at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes, turning once. Place the croutons over the soup, sprinkle with cheese and broil briefly to brown the cheese. Serve immediately.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD:  Make the soup up to two days ahead of serving. Cool thoroughly and refrigerate. Reheat on the stovetop until heated through.  Make the crouton topping when ready to serve.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  This soup or just the caramelized onions will freeze beautifully.  Thaw in the refrigerator or microwave.  Reheat on the stovetop until heated through.  Make the crouton topping when ready to serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 2 | Calories: 683kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 2990mg | Potassium: 577mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1291IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 665mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating




24 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this last night for dinner for my husband and myself. Followed exactly and turned out delicious. Had some left over French bread and used the provolone I had in the fridge. YUM. Only thing I will do differently is use a cast iron next time. Think it will help the browning of the onions. DELICIOUS!

    1. Hi, Nicole, Thanks so very much and so happy you both loved this recipe! Appreciate your taking the time to come back and comment. Happy Valentine’s Day to your both!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve been in the mood for a while now for French onion soup so last evening I went looking for a recipe for two. Yours came up first so I gave it a try. This morning I set to work making the bread. Why skimp with store bought when I can do this on my own. (Love making bread). Then this afternoon I set to work following your recipe, easy to do. Love the dish. This goes into my box of come back recipes. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Harry, Thanks so much and so happy you enjoyed! Love that you also made the bread from scratch! Appreciate your taking the time to come back and comment, too. Thanks again!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe was perfect. Thank you so much. It fed me and my husband and it was just the right amount and the flavors were spot on.

  4. 5 stars
    GREAT recipe! Thanks for giving a “recipe for two” option. My husband loves it and wants me to make it every week. He does most of the cooking so he’s very happy when I cook. This will definitely be in my arsenal!

    1. Hi, Kathy, Thanks so very much and so happy you love this recipe! Although French Onion Soup keeps fine for a few days in the refrigerator and freezes fine, I consider French Onion Soup a treat so enjoy a smaller batch of it, too. Thanks again!

    2. 5 stars
      Great Recipe. Apple cider works good in place of the red wine too. Dash of fish sauce too gives it a little umami boost if your stock is lacking..like the smaller recipe size

  5. After an hour and 20 minutes on medium-low the onions were barely caramelized so we kicked it up to medium and that did the trick in a few minutes. I think low and slow was right for the herb infusion and probably would use that same combination of cook temps in the future. The end result was perfect, significantly better than the Alton Brown recipe we tried years ago and I think easier to put together. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback! Those onions can be a bugger sometimes because you don’t want them to burn but glad you made it work for you! Glad you enjoyed and wow! Better than Alton’s?? I’m humbled.

  6. This. Was. Amazing. It tasted as good as I had hoped it would! I love that it’s a smaller quantity, too.

  7. So excited to find this. I am a widow and still like good food! I just bought some soup crocks for French onion soup and can’t wait to thy out them and caramelizing onions.

    Do you have a broth you would recommend? I am not going to make my own….

    Thank you

    1. Hi, Debbie, Thanks so very much and hope you enjoy! For a beef broth, I generally use Swanson reduced sodium. Yes, making beef broth is a little more involved and expensive than making your own chicken broth. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  8. Hello. I want to make this recipe for 3 people with cup size serving. Will the recipe for 2 yield enough for 3 cup size servings?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi, Pam, Thanks so much for your question. It’s possible it would feed three people; my husband and I consumed this in one sitting but we ate it as a meal. If you’re doing it as a starter, 1 cup per person should be about right. Thanks so much and hope you enjoy!

  9. Carol, I am so happy to find this recipe. I have a pregnant friend who has been craving french onion soup for weeks but can’t make it at home. I want to make some for her, but all the recipes I’ve found serve 8 people and since I don’t eat onions, the leftovers (since she likely doesn’t have freezer space for 8 bowls of soup) would likely go to waste. This recipe, without the wine, solves that problem. Thank you!!

    1. Hi, Hilary, Thanks so much and so glad to hear that! You sure are a sweet friend to do that for her. Thanks again and hope she enjoys!

  10. I love that you have a recipe just for two as it’s just my husband and I. Every recipe I found for French onion soup is for 6 to 8 people which is great when I entertain but most of the time it’s just us so keep those recipes for two coming. Love your website, Carol! I’m making the soup today for my husband and I.

    1. Hi, Tina, Oh, wow! Thank you so very much! You really made my day! Hope you enjoy and hope you’re doing and staying well these crazy days!

    1. Hi, Wendy, Thank you so much and I’d love it if you did! On my home page (www.fromachefskitchen.com), you will find a form if you scroll past the three top photos. Also, on each individual post, look way up at the top for a green bar that runs along the top. There, too, is a subscription form. I’ve avoided putting a subscription pop-up on my site because pop-ups annoy me and I don’t want to do that to anyone else. Thanks again!