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Vegetarian French onion soup. January 28, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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1 comment so far

Silence Dogood here. Baby, it’s cold outside! And one of the great warming winter soups is French onion, redolent of onions, topped with crusty bread and gooey melted cheese. Yum! Trouble is, this soup is typically made with beef stock, or even, in the America’s Test Kitchen version, a combination of beef and chicken broths. Could you make French onion soup vegetarian and still keep its richness intact?

This was the challenge I set myself. There are so many good boxed veggie stocks/broths in every grocery store that the soup part didn’t bother me. The issue was imbuing the soup with incredible onion flavor. And that takes a lot of onions.

To get the onion into French onion soup, I slice four large sweet onions (such as Vidalia or WallaWalla) super-thin, then cut each slice in half. Folks, this is a lot of onion! But you need that much to get rich body into your French onion soup. Next, I caramelize the sliced onions in my LeCreuset Dutch oven (any heavy pot would do, but I love my LeCreuset) with butter and salt. (I like RealSalt or Trocomare, hot herb-seasoned salt.) Once the onions have browned and caramelized, I pour in a box of veggie stock—and add a part or all of a second box to make sure we have a soup, not a sauce—and add cracked black pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, I slice a crusty French baguette into thin slices and brush the surface of each slice with olive oil, then run it briefly into the toaster oven to crisp it up. (Sprinkling each slice with an Italian herb mix of basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram, or a dash of Herbamare or Trocamare will definitely kick it up.)

I ladle the soup into individual oven-proof containers, top them with two slices of baguette, and cover the soup and bread with shredded Swiss cheese, then run each ramekin under the broiler for a couple of minutes—watching like a hawk the whole time—to allow the cheese to melt. Swiss cheese?! Aren’t we talking about FRENCH onion soup?!! Yes we are. But shredded Swiss or Gruyere or even Jarlsberg seems to set off the other flavors perfectly. Try it! Add a crunchy winter salad and you’re all set.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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