Saturday, November 9, 2013

Vegan French Onion Soup recipe

It's been cold outside, so I've been reading every soup recipe ever out of my vegan cookbook collection. I want to make something warm and hearty for dinner these days, and what could be more comforting than soup and fresh, homemade bread?

Yesterday, all I could think about was French onion soup, so I made my own vegan version. I don't have any pictures because it just wasn't a very photogenic soup, and it was gone so quickly.

The soup was a mix of a lot of recipes and research on french onion soup. Everyone has an opinion about what makes a good french onion soup, it seems. Some people use red wine, some use white. The mixture of cheeses used to garnish the soup also varies, from Swiss to Gruyere to Asiago and Mozzarella. Between the copious amounts of cheese and the meat-based broth used in the soup, it is very vegan unfriendly! But no more!

French onion soup is notoriously unhealthy, and my variation is no different. Onions are simmered in vegan butter for hours. I don't know how you would possibly want to avoid this step. Just splurge and enjoy it. The butter is mixed with flour to make a roux. The end result is a thick, velvety, almost gravy-like soup, rather than being thin and brothy like other french onion soups. I floated a piece of fresh rosemary wheat focaccia on the top of my soup, but you can stick to traditional french baguette if you want.

Vegan French onion soup
Makes 4 large bowls for a main dinner course, or six small bowls for appetizer or lunch
Cooking time from start to table: About 4 hours, most of it inactive 

Four medium Vidalia onions, sliced into very thin half-moons.
1 stick of Earth Balance butter
1 cup dry red wine (I used Cabernet)
1 teaspoon thyme
3 bay leaves
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 ½ teaspoons Annie's Naturals Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 scant teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
4 cups water
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
Slices of baguette or focaccia
Slices of Daiya cheddar or your favorite vegan cheese

1.)    Melt Earth Balance in a soup pot over VERY LOW heat. Peel and slice your onions while the Earth Balance is melting. It should barely be bubbling by the time you’re done. Add the onions and let them hang out in the pan, stirring occasionally, until they’re gooey, brown and caramelized. This will take almost three hours, but it’s totally worth it. Go do something else while the onions are caramelizing. Avoid the urge to jack the heat up to make them cook faster. They will, just be patient.
2.)    When your onions are done caramelizing, add thyme, bay leaves, wine, salt and pepper. Now you can turn up the heat pretty high. Let the wine boil vigorously, stirring until it is mostly reduced.
3.)    Lower the heat a little and sprinkle flour over the onion mixture. Stir quickly until flour is incorporated and the mixture is pasty, about a minute and a half.
4.)    Add nutritional yeast, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, water. Salt and pepper it to your liking. Stir constantly until mixture is thick and bubbling again.
5.)    Turn off the heat and give the soup one more stir. Remove the bay leaves. Ladle it into bowls and float a piece of baguette or focaccia on top. Lay slices of cheese on top of the baguette. Place soup bowls under a hot broiler until cheese is brown and bubbly. Carefully serve soup. Bowls will be HOT.

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