Friday, January 12, 2024

Garlic Parmesan French Onion Soup


 This is a sponsored post by Challenge Butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

French onion soup is such a classic dish, but sometimes it can feel really heavy due to the rich beef stock and high in sodium. 

The idea for this reinvented French onion soup recipe came because of my newest obsession, parmesan garlic stock. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again—parmesan rinds are equivalent to gold in the culinary world. A parmesan rind is the hard outer edge of a wheel of parmesan. It develops as the parmesan wheel ages. It's definitely edible, but I wouldn't recommend nibbling on it because it's pretty tough. However, they are one of the most incredible ingredients in soups and sauces—imparting a rich, umami flavor. So when you finish a wedge of parmesan, ALWAYS freeze the rind to save for later. Also, you can buy parmesan rinds at Whole Foods and probably other stores with specialty cheeses.

Okay, circling back to parmesan garlic stock—I did not create this, but I wish I had. I'm a huge proponent of making my own stocks because if you want a high-quality dish, you need to start with a good foundation. A parmesan garlic stock is similar to a vegetable stock (no bones), but it's just parmesan rinds, garlic, and some seasonings. I keep some in my freezer at all times. It is so incredibly delicious with many soups, especially French onion soup!

The key to French onion soup is properly caramelized onions. I start by melting Challenge unsalted butter in a Dutch oven. I use Challenge because there are no preservatives or hormones, so it's a product I really trust feeding my family. The caramelization process takes a really long time, upwards of 1 hour. But the good news is it's almost an entirely hands-off process. Then I add the parmesan garlic stock and let it simmer with the onions for another hour. Good soup can't be rushed! We need time for the flavors to meld. And that's pretty much it! I like to top with toasted French bread and gruyere. If you don't have oven-proof ramekins or bowls, you can use a kitchen torch!

Parmesan garlic stock

Yield: 1 gallon

Time: About 4 - 6 hours


  • 8 ounces yellow onion, small dice
  • 12 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 pound parmesan rinds
  • 1.5 gallons cold water
  • 1 sachet d’epices (1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon crushed peppercorns, 4 parsley stems)

Equipment needed

  • Large stockpot
  • Ladle
  • Fine-mesh sieve
  • Cheesecloth


  1. Place the onion and garlic in a stockpot and sweat until onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Add parmesan rinds to stockpot and cover with cold water. 
  3. Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add sachet to simmering stock.
  4. Continue simmering stock for 4 to 6 hours.
  5. Strain stock through fine-mesh sieve into large bowl. Cool stock and refrigerate or freeze it.

Garlic Parmesan French Onion Soup

Yield: 6 cups soup

Time: About 2 1/2 hours


  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted Challenge butter
  • 3 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 quarts parmesan garlic stock
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Additional salt, ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 (1/2-inch) slices baguette (from about half a standard-sized baguette)
  • 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated


  1. Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and salt, stir and caramelize onions until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Turn down heat if onions brown too quickly. Expect caramelization process to take around 1 hour.
  2. Add balsamic vinegar to Dutch oven and deglaze pan.
  3. Pour in parmesan garlic stock. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Add thyme and bay leaves to simmering soup.
  4. Let soup simmer for 30-60 minutes to allow flavors to meld together. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs from soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In last 10 minutes of cooking soup, preheat oven to broil. Place baguette slices on baking sheet and toast until crispy, about 2 minutes on each side.
  6. Divide soup into ramekins or oven-proof bowls. Top soup with toasted baguette slices and cover surface with Gruyère. 
  7. Place onto baking sheet and slide into oven. Broil about 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.
  8. Serve immediately.


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