Food

8 Delicious French Onion Soups to Keep You Cozy All Winter Long

Where to find the best bowls of melty cheese and caramelized onions.

French onion soup at Le Diplomate. Photograph courtesy of Le Diplomate Facebook

Is there any better soup than French onion? It’s less like a soup, and more like a bowl of melty cheese, croutons, and caramelized onions with just the right amount of broth—so in our opinion, no. And since there’s a lot of soup similarity, here’s a bowl for every French onion craving.

The ultra-cheesy: Le Diplomate
1601 14th St., NW
Le Dip’s French onion soup doesn’t skimp on the fromage, which is heaped atop slices of the brasserie’s delicious homemade baguette and broiled until bubbling. You won’t see the robust onion broth upon arrival, but it’s hiding under all that incredible molten cheese. 

The classic: Convivial 
801 O St., NW
Leave it to a native French chef like Cedric Maupillier to perfect soupe à l’oignon gratinée. Classic bowls, rich with caramelized onions and white wine and served with a relatively restrained amount of gruyere cheese, are a go-to at brunch or dinner at the Shaw brasserie. 

The classic (with a small twist): Central
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Some things haven’t changed on Central’s menu over the course of 13 years—even though the place now has a new look and chef. That’s true for the onion soup: a robust classic with beef broth and caramelized onions, made slightly tangier with the addition of provolone cheese.

The vegetarian-friendly: Primrose
3000 12th St., NE
You won’t miss the beef broth in Primrose’s vegetarian riff. An earthy, rich liquid draws its flavor from kombu, mushrooms, and deeply caramelized onions. Sorry, vegans, the gooey topping of gruyere and emmental cheeses are there to stay. 

Primrose’s vegetarian French onion soup is just as good as the beefy versions. Photograph by Evy Mages

The soup and fire combo: La Chaumiere
2813 M St., NW
Is there anything better than dipping into a cauldron of soup next to a warming fire? The winter dream is a reality at this Georgetown stalwart, which takes its classics seriously. The Gratinée Lyonnaise traditionally gets a rich twist with the addition of egg yolks and a dash of Port.

The soup with a view: Parc de Ville
8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax
When it’s not absolutely freezing (remember those days?) we love cozying up to a bowl of French onion on the chic rooftop wine bar of this Mosaic District brasserie. Good news: you can always enjoy chef Brendan L’Etoile’s classic indoors, even on the coldest days when al fresco isn’t an option. Note that equally charming French sibs Cafe Colline in Arlington and Chez Billy Sud in Georgetown also offer the soup.

The new soup in town! Duck Duck Goose
2100 P St., NW
Chef Ashish Alfred’s newest French brasserie—a romantic Dupont Circle spot with warm brick walls and flickering candles—isn’t a carbon copy of its sister locations in Bethesda and Baltimore. One thing all three have in common: you guessed it, sushi! We’re kidding, it’s a really delicious French onion soup. Match it with similarly warming dishes like duck confit.

The French dip-French onion mashup: Randy’s Prime Seafood & Steak
8051 Leesburg Pk., Vienna
Two of our obsessions—French dip sandwiches and French onion soup—come together in this crave-inducing sandwich. The Tysons steakhouse piles thinly sliced prime rib onto a buttery roll from sister bakery Best Buns, and accents it with melty gruyere, caramelized onions, truffled béarnaise aioli, and warm beef jus. Duck fat fries take it over the top.

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.