Vegetarian French Onion Soup

Introduction: Vegetarian French Onion Soup

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Sweet, caramelized onions in a rich stock covered in melty cheese - it doesn't get much better than that! French onion soup is awesome, but it's usually made with beef stock which is problematic for vegetarians. With a few simple ingredients, it's easy to whip up some awesome French onion soup that will please any non-carnivore.

Note: As indicated below, vegan cheese can be substituted if desired (for the vegan folks), and the bread can be substituted with this awesome gluten-free and gum-free bread or this one (with the Parmesan cheese replaced with some Gruyere) and the flour can be omitted or replaced with corn starch dissolved in warm stock (for the gluten-free folks)

Step 1: You'll Need. . .

Software (note: the following is for two servings, for more just multiply the amounts):
  • One large sweet onion, sliced very thin
  • 2 or 3 slices French bread (day old, approximately 1/2 inch thick) (For folks who avoid gluten, give it a shot with this awesome gluten-free and gum-free bread or this one with the Parmesan cheese replaced with some Gruyere instead)
  • Approximately 4 oz. Gruyere cheese, shaved thin (more cheese can be added if desired) (substitute vegan cheese if desired)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or margarine or oil if making vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon flour (omit or replace with a tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in warm stock if making gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • salt (probably won't be needed unless you're a huge salt fan), pepper, herbs to taste
  • Large skillet
  • Very sharp knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Small sauce pot with fitted lid
  • 2 oven-safe ramekins or other small soup crocks (each 10 oz. - these are the ones used here)

Step 2: Prepping and Cooking Onions

  1. Cut both ends off of the onion and make a slit through one side from top to bottom so that you can remove the peel and outermost layer
  2. Cut the onion in half, and slice each half into very thin slices
  3. Melt butter in a large saucepan and add onions
  4. Cook over low/medium heat stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown
  5. Transfer the onions to a small sauce pot, making sure to scrape the pan well
  6. Add the stock, flour, vinegar, and garlic to the pot and stir well
  7. Cover and cook over low heat for approximately 20 minutes until the stock has thickened slightly and the onions are very soft and tender
  8. Add pepper and/or other herbs or spices as desired (keep in mind that you'll be adding salty cheese to the top and likely won't want to add salt to the stock and onions at this point since it's plenty salty as is)

Step 3: Bread and Cheese

  1. Cut several slices from a small loaf of day-old French bread - each approximately a half inch thick
  2. Lightly toast the bread slices and rub each with a cut clove of garlic
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin pieces from a block of Gruyere cheese (can also be shredded if desired)

Step 4: Assembly

  1. Fill each ramekin approximately 3/4 inch from the top with stock and onions
  2. Place a slice of bread into the ramekin and press down gently. If one slice doesn't fully cover the broth and onions you can add smaller pieces from another slice
  3. Top with shaved or shredded Gruyere cheese
  4. Place the ramekins under a broiler until the cheese has melted and browned slightly
  5. Enjoy!

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    6 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    For extra flavour, try using shallots and red onions in equal proportion to white onion. I use about 2lb vegetables to 1L stock. Stock from roasted veg is lovely, also there is a brand (I think McCormick's) that makes 'vegetarian beef' stock cubes, but they do have MSG-type chemicals in them. If you are short on bread, croutons will do in a pinch.

    Now I just have to find a way to sub for the bread. (I am celiac AND allergic to the gums subbed into GF breads.) There is something incredibly lovely about the bread in the soup. I rarely miss wheat but this soup is one of those times.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for these suggestions. I personally prefer sweet onions to red, and I almost always make my own stock (and avoid MSG), but those are some great ideas.

    I haven't done a ton of GF baking, but I wonder if it might be possible to make some GF bread but omit the gums?

    Thanks again!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    @Wicken + Shesparticular,
    I'm not celiac, but had some experience with GF cooking and baking. GF bread is already an art form to make tasty, but I'm not sure you could make something you would call 'bread' if you don't use some form of gum. Guar or xanthan gum (typically found in GF bread) act as the binding/thickening agent, even when the recipe calls for eggs too.

    There are recipes for other floury-loaf products (I think RedMills makes a few natural biscut and bread mixes) which may contain less gums.
    Like many things, you're going to have to do it DIY style to get what you need. Remember to share the results!