William VerMeulen Cooking

Principal Horn William VerMeulen releases French Onion Soup recipe from opening concert

A French Onion Soup recipe from a French Horn player…In case you missed it, Principal Horn Bill VerMeulen shared one of his family’s favorite meals in a cooking segment during the opening concert on Monday. The Festival office received many calls and emails the next day asking for the recipe. By popular demand, the VerMeulens have kindly shared it here with you. Enjoy!


VerMeulen Family French Onion Soup


  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 large onions (I prefer sweet onions, i.e.; Maui, Vidalia, Texas 1015)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1 cup red wine (use a wine you would happily drink. I prefer a Burgundy for this)
  • 3 heaping Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts low sodium beef broth
  • 1 baguette or round loaf (try to find one approximately the size of your serving bowls)
  • ½ lb. Gruyere cheese



  1. Grate the Gruyere cheese using a box grater or food processor with grating attachment. Set aside in a bowl for use later.
  2. Slice baguette into 1-inch slices and cut the crusts off of enough of baguette to cover the tops of all of your serving bowls and then toast them to a light golden brown. (If you toast them too darkly, they may burn later when you stick them under the broiler with the cheese.)
  3. Slice the Onions. (Cut the onions lengthwise in order to preserve their shape.)
  4. Chop the Garlic.
  5. At medium heat, melt the butter in a large pot. (I prefer an enameled cast iron pot like Le Creuset)
  6. Add the sliced onion, garlic, thyme sprigs, bay leaves and a blessing of salt and pepper and cook until the onions are soft and caramelized. This will take about 30 minutes. The onions may almost fill the pot to start and reduce significantly over the course of the caramelization.
  7. Increase the heat and add the wine. When it comes to a boil reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has almost evaporated, stirring often. This may take a significant amount of time, perhaps an hour or more. (I get a glass and sample the wine used during this step.)
  8. Pull out the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and discard.
  9. Dust the reduced onions with the flour and stir to mix.
  10. On medium low heat stir onions with the flour for ten minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
  11. Preheat your broiler and adjust rack accordingly to fit baking sheets and bowls.
  12. Add beef broth, bring heat back to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. (Taste early in the heat and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as after 10 minutes the soup is too hot to taste accurately. Do not over salt as the Gruyere cheese adds additional salt component later.)
  13. Ladle the soup into your serving bowls and place bowls on a rimmed baking sheet or pan. Leave about 1-inch room at the top of each bowl (I use a lionhead crock with handles and lids)
  14. Lay the pre-toasted baguette slices into the bowls. (If they do not cover the area completely, cut another piece to fill the gaps.)
  15. Put grated Gruyere cheese liberally on the top of the toast.
  16. Place the baking sheet with the bowls into the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted, and browned slightly. (Watch constantly, as it can easily burn.)
  17. Remove from oven and serve.