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Vegetarian French Onion Soup 5Apr09

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

Wow, I never thought I would even try to make french onion soup. It always seemed like a big challenge but this was incredibly easy to do! I think I was more intimidated by the beef stock and finding something to make it just as rich. It really all came down to using some really really really good vegetable stock.

Most important part is to get the right onions! You want yellow onions, the kind that’s a complete bitch to chop cause you tear up before you even peel the skin off! Stay away from the sweet white ones and fragrant Spanish red ones. The yellow ones that are incredibly spicy and pungent raw are the ones that will cook down to a nice sweet soup base.

It also depends on the type of cheese and how much of it you put on top. It depends on how traditional you want to be, a nicely aged cheddar works well, so would the traditonal emmental, but mozerella gets nice and melty and gooey as well and tastes wonderful!

This recipe serves 4.

3 yellow onions, halved and then sliced thin
4 cups of very high quality vegetable broth (to make the traditional version, use beef broth)
1/2 of red wine
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup of grated emmental or aged cheddar or mozerella
4 slices of crustinis – sourdough bread, toasted
fresh ground pepper
sea salt
4 tablespoons of butter

preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C

Step 1: Saute saute saute!
In a large saucepan, melt about 3 tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat. Once it starts to make some bubbling noises, throw in the finely chopped garlic cloves and onions. Mix it all around until it’s nicely coated with butter. Add in the extra tablespoon of butter if needed. Add a pinch of fresh ground pepper and sea salt. Now lower the heat to medium and stir constantly to not burn the onions. Cook that down until it starts to caramelize – it should look a little light brownish – about 10 minutes. Do not burn the onions! This will totally change the flavors! Once the onions are nice and caramelized, pour in the 1/2 cup of red wine, mix, and let that simmer to cook of the alcohol for a good 5-6 minutes.

Step 2: The broth!
Once the onion mixture with the wine has been cooked down to release the alcohol, slowly pour in the 4 cups of vegetable broth. Using a cooking-safe string, tie together the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Throw that bundle into the soup along with the bay leaves. Add in the pinch of nutmeg and stir. Bring that whole thing to a simmer and let that cook away for another 10 – 15 minutes. This is basically to release all the flavors and bring out the very French herby aroma. Taste often and remove the bay leaves and herb bundle once it’s ready.

Step 3: Oooey gooey!
Using a toaster, grill, oven, or even stove to flame, toast a couple of slices of sourdough bread. On top of a baking tray, ladle the soup, onions and all into small oven safe dishes. Ramekins work perfectly for single serve sizes. And then dunk the crustinis into the soup. Sprinkle the entire dish with a heaping amount of cheese. Enough to cover the top of the dish and the crustini. Place into top shelf of the oven and broil for about 2 minutes or until the cheese is entire melted and oozing over the soup. Careful to not burn it! Serve with extra pieces of toasted bread for dunking!

I think the last time I had french onion soup was at a vegetarian restaurant in Paris a few years ago. That was unbelieveable. I think I’ve gotten it pretty darn close! Try using different cheeses to find your perfect oozey cheese consistency. I’ve seen places serve this dish with a puff pastry as the breading on top… for some reason that just doesn’t seem as French to me. I’ll have to try it out next time and see if I change my mind! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

Vegetarian French Onion Soup



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Ground Support

My local favorite is currently Ground Support in SOHO. I go there almost every day for a smooth creamy soy cappuccino or if it’s hot out an iced soy latte. When I’m not in a hurry to run out, I try to take a few extra minutes to enjoy the coffee in the shop… you know, chat with the staff, catch up on some calls and best of all… people watch. Always some interesting characters in NYC!

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