Slow Cooking: French Onion Soup

For my inaugural weeks of slow cooking I’ve tried beefs, spreads, chicken, sauces, chili.  The only obvious absence to my crock hit list is a soup.  And, the first soup that came to mind is French Onion Soup. Since I know my cooking venture focus group is my 6 and 9-year old kids, I figured the hardened cheese crust should be an easy bribe to get them to at least try the soup.  When I was a kid, that’s the only reason I ate French Onion soup.  Soup isn’t part of their daily diet.  How many young kids do you know who would opt to take their time eating soup at a meal instead of scarfing down a solid food? But, what could be better than hot, melted Mozzarella cheese and mushy pieces of french bread with some tasty beef broth?

I remember Mom making French Onion soup at home during the cold winter months.  I know she didn’t make her own beef stock so, I decided, neither would I.  (Phew, that was easy).  Instead I went on a mission to find homemade beef stock. Like I always used to say, “it’s homemade, just not in my home.”  The first store surprisingly only had boxed beef stock in lieu of fresh.  Again, every time I’m in a food store, it’s become a teachable moment.  While the boxed stock doesn’t have to be refrigerated until opening, I soon learned (from a very gracious employee) that it has a much higher sodium content than homemade and it’s often higher in carbohydrates because of “fillers” that are used like flour and sugar.  On the contrary, homemade beef stock is bursting with natural ingredients like veggies and herbs and water.  It has much fewer carbohydrates with plenty of taste.  It’s also rich in vitamins and minerals!

And,  just a couple blocks from my apartment, I found some amazing homemade stock.

Like many insecure cooks, I’m superstitious too.  I remember Mom serving the soup in those awesome brown onion soup bowls that had the handle jutting out on one side.  Even though my soup would probably taste just fine served in our normal bowls, I needed to try to replicate Mom’s kitchenware.  Another benefit of living in the big city, I found them right around the corner!

I was ready to crock.

I cried the whole time cutting up the onions.  It was actually quite cathartic for me. However one concerned follower of @MyJudytheFoodie on twitter actually suggested I purchase “onion goggles.”   That seemed a little hypochondriacal.

Once the onions were thrown in the skillet to soak up the butter, I stopped crying and started smiling as I welcomed the pungent aroma of sauteeing onions.

Look at those onions glistening

And, that’s really all there is to onion soup prep folks.

I swear.

The slow cooker does the rest.  Just combine the onions with the beef stock and turn that porcelain pot on!

Three hours later, the soup smelled restaurant-worthy.  I carefully lined up my fancy bowls, ladled in the aromatic broth, sprinkled on some fresh Mozzarella cheese and let the oven bake it until the cheese started to bubbled on top.

Ready for the oven to bake the cheese

Was I cheating by using 2x as much shredded cheese than the recipe called for and by purchasing those beautiful bowls so the soup could look as good as possible?  Probably.  But, I was determined to get my kids to not just try the soup but to eat the soup.  I wanted them to enjoy breaking through the cheesy crust, scooping the french bread in the bowl, and letting the bread soak up the soup so they could suck it and eat it.

After three attempts and one burnt thumb later, I still couldn’t figure out how to get the cheese to perfectly melt over top the bowl to create that hardened shell. My versions simply looked like soup with floating islands of scrappy melted cheese.  I was really bummed.  The cheese was my selling point to my kids! I would definitely recommend using whole slices of either Mozzarella or Muenster cheese on top of the bowl to insure that cheesy blanket.

Where’s the cheese crust?

Either way, the kids really didn’t mind.  They had a blast “eating” the soup and admitted that it was very hearty ( a new vocabulary word we’ve been using in conjunction with our slow cooking adventures).

My son wanted to know if we could have “dinner-for-breakfast” tomorrow and reheat the soup (with more melted cheese).

I considered that a good sign.

Do you make soups for your kids?  If so, which ones?



  1. So glad your kids liked it :-). My Albondigas soup turned out pretty delicious, although my kids liked the broth but not the meatballs. They like chicken noodle soup, so need to make some homemade soon. My dad is a master French Onion soup maker. He follow Julia Childs recipe I believe, which includes making you own stock. Here’s a souper 🙂 easy one that my daughter likes….In a bowl put diced avocados, chopped cilantro, tortilla strips and a little cheese. Pour chicken broth on top. Fabulous and so easy too!

  2. I love, love, love French Onion Soup! The key really is in letting those onions get all brown and creamy and good. In fact, I always just want to stop there and eat them straight up!

    I know what I’m making this weekend…

  3. Sounds easy and delicious! My mom used to float a piece of toasted bread on top of the soup, then sprinkle the cheese on top (gruyere, I think) so it wouldn’t sink into the soup during the browning step. I’ve been wanting a slow cooker for a while now — I hear pulled pork is a guaranteed kid hit! XO

    • Julie » funny, i put the bread on post baking! Tonight I’m reheating the soup and I got slices of both muenster and swiss that i’ll put on!

  4. My kids said, “There is all this onion on the bottom and I slurped it all up. It was sooooo good!” and “I love the cheese!”. Next time, I’m going to add in seasoning like bay leaves and thyme. Should be even better!

  5. Love your blog! This soup looks to die for!

  6. I have apparently been living under a rock because I just tried French Onion soup for the first time the other day… it’s delicious. I love the slow cooker recipe too. We will be having this next week! And thanks for a good read, your post made me laugh.

  7. I love French Onion Soup and somehow had not thought to cook it in the slow cooker, thank you!!!

  8. This is one of my all time favorite soups. Thanks for sharing this great recipe. I would love to have you link up at my blog this week!

  9. Jude Trafford says:

    French Onion Soup is traditionally made with a Gruyere swiss, which can be expensive. A plain ol’ sliced swiss will do, layer it on the top of your oven proof bowl (ok to overlap the sides!) and stick it under the broiler, watching carefully until its the desired brownness. There’s your crispy crunchy cheese!!!

    I also put some red wine in during the last part of the onion saute… maybe 1/ to 1/2 cup? Let it cook down some though before adding to the stock!

  10. There is definately a lot to find out about this subject.
    I like all the points you have made.


  1. […] its sweet taste didn’t receive nearly as many accolades as a side to our slow cooked French Onion Soup on Friday night. In fact, the two dishes just didn’t go well together.  It’s true.  […]

  2. […] I learned how to cut through onions without shedding one single tear.  Now I need to go back and attempt a tear-free Slow-Cooked French Onion Soup. […]

  3. […] like the perfect indoor remedy.  I haven’t used the slow cooker since my last whirl with French Onion Soup and I was looking forward to the smelling the soupy aromas all day long.  In my book, any dish […]

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