French Onion soup is the ultimate comfort food for the winter time. It’s rich, bold in flavour and covered in cheese. Who says the Vegetarian version can’t be as good? In this recipe, I’m going to show you how to make a vegetarian French onion soup that won’t disappoint your cravings!
I have distinct memories of travelling in France as a child and ALWAYS eating French onion soup while I was there. Traditionally made with beef broth, this soup has a tremendously hearty base, which when added to the sweet caramelised onions, creates a comfort food that is just to die for. I have never successfully found a vegetarian version that lived up to the original. Until now.
The trick to French Onion soup, is the technique. It cannot be rushed, that would cause browning of the onions and not caramelisation. The low, slow cooking of the onions allows their sugars to break down and create a mound of sweet, earthy goodness that will form the base of this soup. If you rush this step, you really might as well not bother. Yes, it takes around 3 hours to make this soup… but worth it? Oh yes.
I used my homemade vegetable stock for this soup, rather than a store bought one. Homemade stock is another element that will elevate your soup to a different level. It’s something that’s so easy to make with any vegetables you have on hand, and it is extremely forgiving. You can give or take the amount of water you use depending on how concentrated you want your stock to be.
If you are going to use store bought for this recipe, I recommend using a low-sodium version. You can season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, but it’s difficult to take away too much salt if the stock you are using is already quite salty.
The crowning glory of any French onion soup is it’s crouton and Gruyere cheese hat. I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one who risks serving someone this soup without the signature cheese hat! And don’t go skimping on the cheese! Any excess cheese will fall and melt into the soup during it’s heat in the oven, making a delightful surprise as you reach the bottom of your bowl!
If you make this when you have some friends around for dinner, they will NOT be disappointed in this soup. This vegetarian version packs just as much punch as the original. Give it a try!
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Vegetarian French Onion Soup
Who says French Onion Soup can’t be JUST as good when vegetarian? This easy recipe uses both red and white onions for a bold flavour! An absolutely delicious take on a classic which won’t leave you disappointed!
3 large White Onions (approx 700g),
3 large Red Onions (approx 700g),
2 Tablespoons Butter,
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil,
1 Teaspoon Sugar,
1/2 Teaspoon Salt,
2 Cloves Garlic, minced,
1/2 cup (120ml) dry White Wine,
8 cups (1.8 litres) Low Sodium Vegetable Stock (click here for a homemade version),
2 Bay Leaves,
4-6 sprigs Fresh Thyme,
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper.
French bread sliced,
Swiss Gruyere cheese.
1. Peel and slice the onions in half lengthways. Place each half flat side down and cut into strips about 1/4 wide. They will look like little semi circles as they fall apart.
2. Heat the butter and olive oil on a medium/low heat until the butter is completely melted. Add the onion, stir to coat then cover and let cook for 10 minutes. The heat should be low enough that the onions do not brown but just begin to get soft. After the first 10 minutes, increase the heat to medium, add the sugar and stir the onions once every 10 minutes. Do not cover the onions for this. Repeat stirring every 10 minutes until 1 hour has passed and the onions are brown and caramelized. The magic will start to happen around 45-50 minutes. See the picture above for reference.
3. Add the minced garlic, white wine, salt and pepper to the onions and let cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the vegetable stock, thyme and bay leaves, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 Farenheit). Spoon the soup into bowls, top with a slice of french bread and then generously cover the entire dish with Gruyere cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes before switching it to grill (broil) for the last couple of minutes to let the cheese turn golden brown.
Notes: If you want to make the soup and serve it later, stop at the end of step 3 and store the soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. When ready to serve, spoon the into bowls and go from step 4.