Comfort And Joy Of The Holiday Season

It is the time of year to share the comfort and joy of the holiday season with friends. I like to dress up our home, making it sparkle and invite friends to our annual Christmas party. It takes me a few days to get the house ready because I like to decorate all the rooms on the main floor for a festive look. Between trips up the stairs to the attic for boxes of ornaments and climbing ladders to reach the tops of each Christmas tree, by evening I’m tired. On busy days, I want our evening meal to be something that I can prepare earlier in the day and just serve at dinner without much effort.

French Onion Soup
French Onion Soup

Nothing could be easier to make than a flavorful bowl of classic French onion soup topped with a nice piece of bread covered with Gruyère cheese that has bubbled and turned golden. Once the onions have been caramelized, and the rest of the ingredients added, it sits on the stove top simmering away until you are ready to eat.

The secret to this classic soup is slowly caramelizing the onions until they turn a deep golden brown. When deglazed with wine, beef broth and left to simmer, the result is a richly flavored soup of almost melted, silky onions that have turned sweet from being caramelized. Topped with a large toasted crouton rubbed with garlic, covered with cheese and baked until bubbling and brown, it is a comforting bowl of goodness.

Served with a green salad and a glass of wine, you will have a filling and delicious meal.

French Onion Soup

Makes two servings (two cups per portion)…adjust recipe accordingly.

  • 4 large onions, peeled, halved and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. flour (I used Wondra)
  • 1/2 c. wine (I used white) plus an addition 1/4 c. wine to be added later
  • 2 c. beef broth
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 2 slices of bread cut to the size of the serving bowls, lightly toasted (rubbed with a clove of garlic, if desired)
  • 2 handfuls of grated Gruyère cheese

Heat a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven and melt the butter with the olive oil. When it starts to sizzle add the onions, cover and cook over medium heat and sweat the onions until their liquid has cooked off. Uncover, lower the heat and let the onions cook slowly, stirring occasionally until they are caramelized…anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in the flour, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper and let cook for a couple of minutes. Add the half cup of wine, broth, water and stir well and let simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes. About 10 minutes before serving, add the remaining wine and sherry vinegar. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems before putting into bowls.

Before serving, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If using the broiler to finish the dish, make sure that the soup is very hot before  continuing. Place ovenproof bowls on a foil lined baking sheet. Ladle soup into the bowls, top with the toasted bread and place a handful of cheese on top. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the soup is bubbling and the cheese is golden. Carefully remove and serve.

****

The house is slowly getting decorated. Wreaths are hung at each window, and the entrance hall is decorated and waiting for my husband and I to welcome our guests. The trees have their ornaments and have a bright glow from their twinkling lights.

Waiting To Greet Guests In The Foyer
Waiting To Greet Guests In The Foyer
Antique Cherub In The Foyer Window
Antique Cherub In The Foyer Window

I had requests last year from readers wanting to see a little more of our historic home that was built in the 1730’s. In the next few posts, I’ll be including a photo or two of some of the rooms that are decorated for this holiday season. I hope you will enjoy the little holiday tour of our home at Christmas time.

Posted by

I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

129 thoughts on “Comfort And Joy Of The Holiday Season

  1. My 14-yr-old niece makes the most delicious onion soup and she’s coming over this Christmas so we’ll be having that on our menu.

    Yours looks delicious.

  2. Gorgeous gorgeous photos—the soup AND the foyer. You are so good at capturing the details.
    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe….I’ve never been disappointed in any of yours.
    Enjoy the weekend and don’t over-do. From what I understand , that flu-bug going around this year is a doosy–you’ll want to take extra care of yourself.

    1. Thank you Sue, for your lovely compliment. It is nice to know that you have enjoyed my recipes. It is hard to make onion soup look good…I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. My husband and I got our flu shots before we left for Europe…you take care as well.

    1. Hi Rosemary, Thank you for your nice compliment. I’ve had the Christmas music playing while I’ve been decorating…it makes it enjoyable.

  3. This soup looks delicious. One of my favorite first meals to greet travelers is French onion soup and a caesar salad. It is so comforting. I can’t wait to see more of your home and decorations.

    1. Thank you Karen, for your nice compliment. French onion soup and a Caesar salad is a perfect as far as I’m concerned. I’ll have more photos up soon…I’m glad you enjoy them.

    1. Hi Mandy, It is nice to know that you are looking forward to photos of our home. I had so many people asking last year and what better time than during Christmas. Thank you for your nice comment.

  4. It is looking very Christmasy there, and the food looks delicious too! I think we went below freezing for the first time last night. It has been mild and wonderful for outside decorating!

    1. Hi Kathleen, It is looking Christmasy around my house…I’m having a party soon and have to get the decorating finished. It is a cold but sunny day here, so I’ll be outside cutting pines branches for the front porch. I’m glad you like the soup…it is a perfect meal to have on a busy day.

  5. Your decorations are just gorgeous! I can’t wait to see the rest. This is my first holiday that I actually get to celebrate christmas (since I’m jewish but married an xmas observer) and we just bought some mantle decorations…it was so fun!!

    Also, I’ve been meaning to make onion soup but haven’t because it seemed too difficult…but your recipe definitely makes it seem doable. Can’t wait to try 🙂

    1. Thank you Amy, for your lovely compliment. You have the best of both worlds, getting to share in two holidays. Onion soup is easy to make and other that watching the onions for little bit, it’s a dish that lets you do other things while it is simmering. I hope you will enjoy it.

    1. Hi Victoria, I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos of our home…there will be more coming. We think it is special as it was built centuries ago. I’m glad you like the looks of the onion soup, it is one of my favorites.

    1. Thank you Tanya, for your nice compliment…it is fun decorating for Christmas. We both do like and cook a lot of the same dishes, don’t we. Enjoy your onion soup tonight.

  6. Looking forward to the photos of your decorated home — we haven’t begun decorating yet, will start on Sunday when our daughter is home for the day. She is 21 but insists on being here to help pick out the tree and decorate with us–I love that, so it’s worth the wait. 🙂
    Your soup sounds like a perfect weeknight meal, sweet caramelized onions are always welcome around our house–yum!

    1. Hi Judy, I’m glad you are looking forward to the photos of our home at Christmas. It is so nice that you will have your daughter with you when you start decorating. Onion soup is one of my favorites and easy for a weeknight meal when I’m busy. Thank you for your nice comment.

  7. Gosh, your house looks nice! And so does this soup. I haven’t made French Onion Soup in years, but am planning to do so soon. I like the touch of sherry vinegar you include. I usually make mine with a bit of cognac, although maybe I should try the vinegar – it sounds lovely. I really enjoyed the pictures – thanks so much.

    1. Thank you John, for your nice compliment. I know a lot of people add sherry or cognac when making French onion soup. The sherry vinegar at the end gives a little acidity and enhances the flavor of the soup.

  8. Without question, it is soup season, however, P asked last night how many more times we were going to have it. We’ve eaten soup 4 times in the last week. Can’t wait to see more of your holiday decor.

    1. Hi Lulu, It really is soup time of the year. It is prefect during this hectic time of the year. I’m glad you are looking forward to the Christmas photos…thank you.

    1. Hi Kay, I’m glad you like the French onion soup recipe. It takes a little time to get a nice golden caramelization on the onions but that is what is needed to develop the flavor…I’m glad you agree. I’m happy to know that you are looking forward to the Christmas photos. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  9. Your foyer is very Xmassy and welcoming.
    I love onion soup but don’t make it very often so it’s one of my favourites when I go out. I’d love to dig in to a bowl of yours.

  10. I love French Onion Soup! Sadly, on busy days like you’ve described we end up getting take out 😉 Thank you for sharing photos of your home. Can’t wait to see more!

    1. Hi Susan, One thing about living in a rural area is that we don’t have any place for take out. The soup was easy to get started then left to simmer while I worked on the Christmas decorations. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and that you are looking forward to others. Thank you for your nice comment.

  11. I am a soup fiend and this onion soup looks wonderful! I haven’t made it in years and honestly just got the correct bowls for it a few weeks ago. As soon as it cools down – supposedly next week – I am going to make your recipe! Can’t wait to make it!

    1. Thank you Kelli, for your nice comment. I’m glad to know that you will be making my recipe when you weather turns cool. I hope you will enjoy the soup…I think it is delicious.

    1. Hi Laura, It is nice to know that you love French onion soup as much as I do. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos of my Christmas decorations…more to come.

  12. Am looking forward to the remainder of the lovely pictures of your home. As for onion soup: yours has a treasure-trove of ingredients and is yet again somewhat different from my other recipes: one of the things I like about it is that, living mostly alone, the amounts specified allow me not to use any mathematical skills – one full meal for me and perhaps one for my dear neighbour!!

    1. Hi Eha, I’m happy that you are looking forward to photos of our home, it will be fun sharing them with everyone. I’m glad that you like that this recipes makes four cups. Is is easy enough to double or triple for people cooking for a large group.

    1. Hi Judy, I’m glad you liked the photos of the decorations and the soup. It is hard to get a photo of a brown soup and make it look good…but onion soup is delicious. Thank you for your comment.

    1. Hi Marina, With temps just above freezing…soup is a welcomed meal, especially on a busy day. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, more will be up soon. Thank you!

  13. Karen I have never tried to make this soup but you make it sound so easy I will give it a try…your teaser pictures of the house and decorations are wonderful…looking forward to seeing more of your lovely home.

    1. Hi Donna, French onion soup is so easy to make…I do hope you will give it a try. Thank you for your nice comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of the decorated hallway. I’ll be featuring more photos on the next few posts.

  14. Lovely post, as always. I love french onion soup. It is one of my absolute favorites. In fact, we made it for Christmas last year. Your recipe is loaded with flavor and sounds delicious! I also love your decorations and beautiful home. Our stairs prohibit running the garland on the bottom so we have to run them on the bannister railing which, although pretty, means the railings are pretty useless during the Holidays. 😮

    1. Hi Richard, French onion soup is perfect to serve for Christmas…I’m sure yours was delicious. I’ve run the garland from the bannister railing before because it really is pretty that way. But as you say it does interferes with the railing and I always worry about my safety on the stairs.

    1. Thank you Soffia, I’m happy you enjoyed the photos of the decorations and are looking forward to others. I’m glad that you liked the tip about caramelizing the onions…it is so important to archive the rich flavor that makes French onion soup so good.

  15. As you say Karen, perfect after hard busy day. I just wish I was getting excited about getting the decorations out, unfortunately I’m working away until 9pm on Xmas day. How rude.

    1. Hi David, I think a warming soup is lovely after a busy day…glad you agree. I can certainly understand…the life of a pilot on the holidays is hard.

  16. I’m not sure there really is anything more comforting than a good bowl of French Onion soup! And I love the touch of sherry vinegar in yours, it sounds perfect. Your home is looking beautiful with all the decorations!

    1. Thank you Betsy, for your nice compliment. I have to agree with you about French onion soup. I think the touch of sherry vinegar helps bring out the wonderful flavor. I’m glad you like the decorations…they do give the house a little sparkle when you enter the front door.

    1. Hi Rosa, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of the decorations. I like to have something pretty when you first enter our home. You are right…the soup truly is comfort in a bowl. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Amy, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. Nice to know that you love French onion soup like I do. I’m glad you like the decorations. Have a great time decorating your tree this evening.

  17. I adore French onion soup, Karen and this recipe looks like it would hit the spot. I made my nephew a French Onion Soup that I roasted ox tail bones in the oven for hours coaxing the flavours out, it was a rich, flavourful soup and was a big hit. Sadly, I didn’t take any photos so I’ll have to make it again so I can blog about it. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Hi Eva, The French onion soup was delicious. It was the perfect meal for the middle of the week when I was so busy. I’m sure your soup was terrific as well.

  18. We adore French onion soup and yours sounds delicious. I use sherry vinegar quite often and I was glad to see it in your soup. It just brings a little something special to dishes. Enjoy your decorating. I can’t wait to see what you do. Our winter condo is small and can look crowded if I over-do, so I’m doing very simple this year.

    Have a lovely weekend.
    Sam

    1. Thank you Sam, for your nice compliment. I’m glad you agree about using sherry vinegar…it really does add to the overall flavor of many dishes. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and are looking forward to see some of the other rooms. I know what you mean about keeping decorations simple…too much can overwhelm small spaces. I hope you have a lovely weekend as well.

    1. Thank you Tessa, for your nice compliment. I’m glad to know that French onion soup is a favorite of yours as we;;…I love this soup so much.

  19. If I were tripping up stairs to the attic for boxes of ornaments and climbing ladders to reach the tops of each Christmas tree, by dinner time I would need 2 big bowls of that onion soup. Such a festive foyer, looking forward to future posts.

    1. Thank you Norma, for your lovely compliment. The onion soup was the perfect meal after a busy day…just what I needed to sooth my tired body. I have to say that decorating my home is always a labor of love. I’m glad that you are looking forward to the future posts.

    1. Hi Frank, I have to agree with you and it seems from the comments of others that everyone loves French onion soup. If caramelized properly, there is nothing “oniony” about this recipe. Thank you for your comment.

  20. Hi Karen – I must admit, French onion soup isn’t something I normally associate with the festive season, but sure – why not, right? It’s warm, it’s certainly delicious, comforting, tasty food for snowy days (if you have snow). Great idea – I haven’t had this since I last posted about it on my blog… wow, a long time ago now. Must make it again!

    Thanks for sharing your photos too – I hope you’re getting into the festive spirit 🙂

    1. Hi Charles, Yes, I definitely am in the Christmas spirit as my decorating is complete and now it is on to holiday baking. French onion soup may not sound festive but it is my favorite.

  21. French Onion soup is one of my all time favorites. Your recipoe sounds delicious, Karen
    I admire historic homes that are well loved.and I’d love to see more of your home and your Christmas decorations.

    1. Thank you Pat, for your nice compliment. French onion soup has always been a favorite of mine as well. My husband and I are lucky to live in such an historic home. I’m glad that your are looking forward to seeing some of the rooms in our home.

  22. How beautiful your decorations look! I look forward to seeing some of your festive rooms. I love onion soup and haven’t had it for ages. It’s funny how some dishes get passed by in favour of others for no good reason.

    1. Thank you Suzanne, for your nice compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the decorations and are looking forward to the future posts. I agree with you…it is easy to forget about preparing some of our favorite dishes as time passes.

    1. Hi Mary, It nice to know that you enjoy French onion soup and like the recipe. It is a good dish to serve this time of the year. I’m happy that you enjoyed the Christmas decorations. Thank you for your compliment.

  23. It looks beautiful. We’re not decorating the house this year because we’ll be in Italy for Christmas (I know – what a hardship THAT is!) so it seems odd right now. Happily I can look and see what other people are doing.

    1. Thank you Jerry, for your compliment. I know you will have a wonderful time on your trip. We have spent two Christmases in Europe and they were special. Two years ago, we came back home from Europe late on Christmas night and were surprised by a little lit Christmas tree on our front porch. Friends didn’t want us to come home to no decorations and surprised us.

  24. Karen, I made your Chicken Piccata yesterday and we loved it so thanks, again, for posting it, it is always nice to get great ideas while looking at your blog and now that you posted about the Fench Onion Soup, I remembered that I went to a Swiss cheese tasting two weeks ago and bought a big chunck of Gruyère that I almost forgot all about – now I know that my family will ber served steaming bowls of this fabulous soup next week! Love the Christmas decorations at your house and I am already looking forward to your upcoming posts!
    P.S.: Your letter is on its way and I hope that the postal service will live up to its promise of speedy delivery despite the mountains of mail these days!

    1. Hi Andrea, Thank you as always for your lovely compliment. I do love hearing when someone has made one of my recipes and enjoyed it…happy that you liked the chicken piccata. I do hope that you enjoy the onion soup as well. I will have more photos up soon. Thank you…I’ll be looking for your letter.

    1. Hi Diane, This is the time of year when a warming bowl of soup makes a good meal. I know yours must be delicious. I’m glad you like the photos of the house…there will be several more posts showing some of the other rooms and how I decorate them. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Thank you Meg, for your lovely compliment. Sometimes I think we try to hard to make an elaborate meal but simple ones can be so special…I’m glad that you agree.

    1. Thank you Donna, French onion soup is one of my favorites and was very good. I’m glad you enjoyed the decorations…I know your home is lovely as well.

  25. I remember your holiday posts from last year and I so enjoy the pictures. You do such a beautiful job of decorating. It’s so elegant and classic. I love it. I also love this soup. It’s making me very hungry. The Gruyere sounds perfect! 🙂

    1. Hi Kristy, Thank you for your kind words. It is nice to know that you enjoy my holiday posts with photos of our home. I know it is different from most others since it is almost 300 years old. The soup topped with the melted Gruyere was delicious.

    1. Hi Carol, I’m glad you like the soup…it was delicious. I do enjoy decorating our home for Christmas. Thank you for your lovely compliment.

    1. Thank you Geraldine, for stopping by for a visit and you nice compliment. I’m glad that I could remind you about French onion soup. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

    1. Thank you so much Kathy, for your lovely compliment and holiday wishes. I hope your holiday season will be beautiful as well. French onion soup is wonderful this time of the year when we are both experiencing cold weather. I think you would enjoy the recipe.

  26. I just recently made a pot of French onion soup. I love the flavors and of course the bread and melted cheese over the top! The great thing about French onion soup is that you can easily freeze any left over soup in sealed Ziploc bags. Portion out the soup into bags, freeze it and when you’re too tired to cook, throw a frozen portion into a saucepan to heat up and you’ve got dinner all over again in a few quick minutes!

    1. Hi Ducky, I’m glad that you enjoy French onion soup as much as I do. I do like your idea of making a large pot and freezing small portions for quick meals.

  27. Karen, your garland is gorgeous! I think I have the sibling cherub to yours! I’m so glad you are sharing your holiday home, its so very welcoming! I made a french onion soup this weekend as well! It’s always a favorite!!

    1. Hi Linda, I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos…and thank you for your compliment. Would you believe that I found my cherub in an antique store and that it was originally part of a chandelier. I can’t imagine what it must have looked like. Our tastes are so much alike…French onion soup has always been a favorite of mine as well.

  28. This looks like a good french onion soup recipe… and I have tried tons! I did onion soup R&D one Paris trip trying to figure out who used beef vs chicken broth. I use to buy a demi-glace from D’Artagnan specialty foods and this really gave it some depth. I’m sure it’s nice to have at the end of your evening but you are still working hard.
    Your house looks beautiful. Reminds me I need to decorate my stairs 🙂

    1. Thank you Wendy, for your nice compliment. I like D’Artagnan products as well. There is a store in Massachusetts that I drive down to occasionally where I buy some of their items…including their demi-glace.

    1. Hi Nicole, Thank you for stopping by to visit and your nice compliment. I’m glad you enjoy my blog and this recipe. I look forward to your return.

    1. Hi Carol, I do appreciate that you have taken the time to catch up on my posts as you are one of my most loyal readers. Onion soup is perfect for our winter weather.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s