A Vegetarian Riff on French Onion Soup

I have no childhood associations with French onion soup the way I did with stuffing.  The fact that it’s traditionally made with beef broth didn’t wreak havoc on me when I became vegetarian because I don’t think I’ve ever even had traditional French onion soup. 


My sister and I hated onions when we were children.  I don’t know why we hated onions.  I don’t remember being averse to the taste, or the smell, or even the texture of cooked onions.  I just remember hating onions.  I think sometimes my mom would successfully sneak them into dishes if she cut them small enough, but I do remember Kate or I being very upset if we were able to unearth an onion piece after a careful inspection of a suspect dish.

Somewhere along the line I came around on onions.  Also on mushrooms, cooked tomatoes and brussels sprouts.  Eggplant and I are still a little iffy, but we get along just fine when it’s nicely roasted or in baba ghanoush form.

These days I can hardly imagine a better sounding soup.  A bowl of caramelized onions in a tasty broth topped with sourdough croutons and melted cheese?  Sign me up!


French Onion Soup

This makes enough for two small bowls, or one massive bowl for a hungry person.  Perhaps a hungry person who just came in from a 10 mile run and let the onions caramelize while she showered.  Just a suggestion.


  • 2 large onions, peeled and halved, then sliced thinly
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 springs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups roasted vegetable stock or your favorite veggie broth
  • 1 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 or 2 pieces of toasted sourdough bread
  • 1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • onion chives for garnish (optional)
  1. In a large saucepan, caramelize the onions and garlic in the butter.  Add in the thyme and bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until onions are brown and soft and fully caramelized (about one hour over low heat).
  2. When the onion mixture is done, add the white wine, and stir.  Cook until the onions have fully absorbed the wine (about 5 minutes).
  3. Then add the flour and stir.  Cook for at least ten minutes (longer will give more flavor, less then 1o minutes and you’ll have a raw flour taste to contend with)
  4. Add 2 cups of roasted vegetable stock to the pan, and stir in the mustard, nutritional yeast and soy sauce.  Cook for another 10-20 minutes depending on your patience level (more time will further concentrate the flavors, but it will still taste delicious if you can’t wait).
  5. While the soup is cooking, toast a piece of sourdough bread about the size of your soup bowl.  (I toasted mine using the broiler, and left the broiler on for melting the cheese) 
  6. Transfer the soup to a soup bowl, and put the sourdough toast on top. Add the grated gruyere on top of the sourdough toast.
  7. Put the soup under the broiler until the cheese has melted.  Remove, and garnish with onion chives if desired prior to serving.


I love that this soup manages to combine soup and grilled cheese into one satisfying dish.

What’s your favorite soup?


A Vegetarian Riff on French Onion Soup — 3 Comments

  1. WANT WANT WANT! So I am not a big onion fan to this day, but this looks & sounds amazing. (I also recently came around to mushrooms too; so glad that happened!)

  2. This looks so good! I’ve been looking for a veggie-friendly version. I tried your kale/polenta recipe last night and it was excellent . I actually added some Soyrizo to it, too, which made it taste similar to a tamale. It was a nice surprise!

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