I’ve been battling a change of season cold. After a course of antibiotics, it’s still lingering and it’s times like this that I want soup. But not just any soup. I needed something that would clear my sinuses and burn off the remnants of this blasted cold. Since I stopped eating meat over a year ago my first choice, chicken noodle was off the table. I had a nice big bag of onions that needed cooking before they started to sprout roots in my kitchen. And while I’ve never tried the beef broth-based French onion soup from scratch, I figured there must be a vegetarian alternative.
There are, of course, several variations. Mine isn’t vegan, though you could easily replace the butter with a vegetable oil and the cheese with a vegan alternative. I read about a half dozen recipes and gleaned from each ingredients that sounded good as well as also being in my cupboard without a trip to the store. I am happy with the results, as is my spouse (that’s the real test of course for any cupboard gourmet!)
Always remember to taste along the way and feel free to tweak and adjust any recipe to your own taste. That’s how you make it yours!
4 Onions – cut in half and sliced
(I used sweet onions because that’s what I had on hand, though next time I plan to try white or yellow onions, as most recipes suggest, to make the soup less sweet. I just added a bit more salt to balance it this time. It was still delicious!)
3 garlic cloves – finely chopped
1/4 cup butter
2 TBS all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1 32 oz carton of vegetable broth
1/2 cup cooking sherry
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
A pinch of thyme
3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 loaf French bread – sliced
Gruyere, Shredded Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese (any nice gooey melting white cheese works…I had some Muenster on hand. That sounds yummy too!)
You will need a Dutch oven (the non-stick kind will help caramelize the onions, leaving a nice brown layer at the bottom).
You’ll also need some oven-safe individual crocks, which I don’t currently have (adding a set of these to my holiday wish list) But don’t let that stop you from trying this recipe. It’s a yummy soup even if you leave the last step out!
Place the sliced onions, chopped garlic and butter into your pot and turn up the heat. I added a little salt, just because. And while you will want to be sure that the onions don’t burn, you can step away from it occasionally letting the bottoms brown, flipping and repeating. (I’m a “clean as you go” cook, so this is the perfect time to multitask!)
This part of the process takes patience my friends. You want your onions to be nice and gooey brown, and the bottom of your pot to have a nice dark “crust”.
Once you get there, add the broth and flour, stirring to completely blend while also scraping the bottom of your pot to incorporate all that good stuff at the bottom. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the bread and cheese 😊) and let the soup come to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes. The longer the better. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
If you have those fancy crocks, now is when you will want to fire up the broiler. Scoop the soup into your crock, top with a toasted slice of French bread and your cheese of choice and broil until the cheese is bubbly!
As for me, I’ll try that another time. This rainy afternoon I had a hankering for a warm savory soup and that is exactly what I got! Served in a bowl with a sprinkle of fresh shredded Parmesan and a few slices of French beard for dipping satisfied my craving just fine!