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Are you into eating onions?
The caramelized version was my access point for starting to truly enjoy eating this vegetable. But I actually used to hate onions, primarily because of how they would burn my eyes when I chopped them with my grandmother.
Thankfully, she would take over as soon as my eyes started to water uncontrollably.
My grandmother was our family’s own little Julia Child. She took classes at Le Cordon Bleu, she lived in France for a period of time, and she loved cooking French food.
French onion soup was one of those recipes that she would bust out from time to time when I was a kid. Whenever she did, I would happily volunteer to help.
Not with slicing the vegetables, of course, but with grating the cheese and slicing the bread.
I would snag bites of bread and cheese as I worked through my tasks, whenever my grandmother wasn’t looking…
She would spend hours on this soup, carefully caramelizing the onions and cooking down the broth. I can still picture her standing in her kitchen, cooking over the stove with her curly hair getting all frizzy, and a glass of wine in her hand.
Her motto was, if the recipe calls for wine, that means you get to enjoy a glass while you cook. This is a motto that I think many of us can get behind, isn’t it?
I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately, and her French onion soup. But in these modern times, one of the things that puts me off those classic recipes is the amount of time that they take to prepare.
That’s why this Instant Pot version is absolute perfection. It’s a flavor-packed recipe that comes together in one pot, in so much less time than you would expect.
Caramelizing the onions does take a good amount of cooking time in comparison to other pressure cooker recipes, but it is crucial to this dish. Take the time to cook them down, and you will be rewarded with incredible flavor!
Using the Instant Pot’s saute function, it takes about 15-20 minutes to fully caramelize the flavorful root vegetables until they are golden brown. After that, you’ll complete a quick couple of steps to make the roux and add the remaining ingredients.
Then you simply set it and forget it. It’s as simple as that.
All that’s left is melting the cheese on top of some crusty bread for the classic topping that you know and love.
The resulting dish has a depth of flavor that can hold its own against any of those classic homemade soup recipes that you’re used to, even my grandmother’s – and you no longer have to wait to make it on a Sunday when you have a ton of time to cook it down on the stove.
It’s one of my favorites to enjoy after a hectic day at the office, and it will help you relax and unwind.
A bowl of this soup with a rich glass of red or white wine is all you need to make the week a little bit less stressful.Print
Forget spending a ton of time building flavor – you can make the ultimate bowl of French onion soup in your Instant Pot.
For the Soup:
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 5 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 medium yellow onions, sliced very thin (approx. 3 cups)
- 1/4 tsp granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 8 cups homemade or low-sodium beef broth
- 2 Tbsp white wine
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp salt + more for seasoning
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper + more for seasoning
For the Cheesy Toast:
- 6–12 slices French baguette
- 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
- Set Instant Pot to Saute.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter with the oil in the Instant Pot. Once hot, add onions and sugar to the insert. Saute until golden and caramelized, about 12-15 minutes. Transfer onions to a small bowl and set aside.
- Add remaining butter and melt on Saute. Whisk in flour and continue to whisk until light golden brown in color, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk in broth until combined.
- Add onions, wine, thyme, salt, and pepper.
- Cover and cook on Manual Pressure on High for 30 minutes. Quick release pressure. Remove thyme sprigs.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle into oven-safe crocks and place on a baking sheet. Heat broiler on high.
- Place 1-2 baguette slices on top of the soup in each crock.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup grated cheese on top of the bread in each crock. Broil for 2-3 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they don’t burn. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Category: Soup
- Method: Pressure Cooked
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: Instant Pot, French onion soup, onion, French
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Slice, Grate, and Measure Remaining Ingredients
Peel and thinly slice three medium yellow onions.
Finely grate enough Gruyère cheese so you have about 1 1/2 cups total. Gruyère is a more flavorful option, but any type of Swiss cheese will do.
Get out your bread knife, and slice the baguette into 12 rounds that are roughly uniform in thickness. Discard the ends, or snack on them with a piece of cheese.
Measure all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.
Trying to figure out what type of wine to use for this recipe? I recommend something light and crisp. Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio are two of my favorites.
Step 2 – Caramelize
Set Instant Pot to Saute. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and the oil to the pressure cooker insert.
Once the butter has melted, add the onions and sugar.
Saute, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden and caramelized. This will take about 12-15 minutes. Transfer the onions to a small bowl.
Step 3 – Cook
Add the remaining butter to the insert let it melt, still on the Saute function. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until it’s light golden brown in color. This will take about 2-3 minutes.
Slowly whisk in the broth until combined, adding it gradually to avoid creating any lumps.
Add the onions. Stir in the wine, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
Cover and cook on Manual Pressure on High for 30 minutes. Quick release the pressure. Remove the lid, and remove the thyme sprigs.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 4 – Garnish and Broil
Ladle the soup into 6 oven-safe crocks.
If you’re looking for oven-safe stoneware bowls with handles to add to your collection, I love these crocks from Le Creuset. They’re chip resistant and dishwasher safe, hold 16 ounces of soup, and they come in a variety of colors.
Le Creuset Stoneware French Onion Soup Bowl in Cerise, Available from Wayfair
Place them on a baking sheet and set your broiler to High, with a rack placed close enough to melt the cheese on top of the soup without the crocks or cheese touching the heating element.
Add about 1/4 cup of grated cheese on top of the bread slices and the surface of the soup in each crock.
Place the baking sheet under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Make sure to watch carefully while you do this, so they don’t burn.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
What If I Don’t Have Oven-Safe Crocks?
If you don’t have oven-safe crocks available to melt the cheese and serve this soup in, that’s no problem. Large ramekins will also work, but there’s another option as well.
Place the sliced bread on a baking sheet, sprinkle it with cheese, and melt it in the broiler before transferring it to float on top of soup that you’ve ladled into bowls.
You won’t get that melty goodness on top of the soup itself if you go this route, but it’s a close approximation that will still provide that crunchy, cheesy, satisfying experience.
For more delicious soup options, check out a few of our favorites:
- Pot Roasty Kale and Onion
- Potato and Chanterelle
- Easy Vegan Split Pea
- Beans and Greens
- Creamy Butternut Squash Apple
Is French onion soup your favorite comfort food? Would you rather have other French classics like potage parmentier or potage creme d’epinards? Tell us what you love, and why you love it, in the comments below, and be sure to come back to rate this recipe after you try it.
Photos by Megan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via Le Creuset. Originally published on November 9, 2010. Last updated: April 5, 2022 at 14:24 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.