Having the travel bug? Try out this classic French soup that is a delicious and hearty dish made with caramelized onions, flavorful broth, and some melty vegan cheese. Bon Appetit!
I grew up in New York City, the epicenter of Greek diners. My father used to own one in the 80s and 90s, and everytime I came in to visit him, he'd have a milkshake served up in no time. If you've ever been to a diner, you are very familiar that the menu has literally every single dish known to humankind.
I fell in love with French onion soup in that diner. I just absolutely loved the rich, sweet, and savory taste of the sweet caramelized onions, the rich and savory flavor of the broth, the complexities and depth of the herbs, and finally, the ooey, gooey texture of the cheese. It's everything you want in a soup and more!
I was craving this soup over the pandemic and it was stew and soup season. So, I jumped into the kitchen with my pencil and paper, and my compassionate filled ingredients, to veganize this incredible soup and to learn more about it's story.
History of French Onion Soup
French onion soup has a long history dating back to ancient Rome. It was originally made with simple ingredients such as onions, water, and salt. The soup then became popular in France during the 18th century, where it was served as an affordable and simple meal by people who faced food insecurities. In the 19th century, the addition of beef broth and caramelized onions gave the soup a richer flavor, and it became a popular dish in Parisian cafes and bistros. Today, French onion soup is a classic French dish that is enjoyed around the world - including Greek diners :-)
How is Vegan French Onion Soup made?
French onion soup is both hearty and comforting. It is made by caramelizing onions in butter or oil, and then simmering them in either vegan beef or chicken flavored broth with herbs and seasonings. The soup is then topped with a slice of bread and a generous amount of melted vegan cheese.
One of the key ingredients in French onion soup is the onions. They should be thinly sliced and caramelized until they are a deep golden brown. This process brings out the natural sweetness of the onions and gives the soup a rich, complex flavor. The caramelized onions are then simmered in a flavorful vegan beef or chicken broth, along with bay leaves.
To make the soup even more decadent, a slice of bread is placed on top of the soup, and a generous amount of vegan cheese is added. The cheese is then melted under the broiler, creating a crispy, cheesy crust that adds a delicious contrast to the rich, savory soup.
French onion soup is a perfect dish for a cold winter evening or for a cozy dinner with friends and family. It is also a great option for a restaurant menu as it can be made in advance and kept warm until ready to serve.
Why aren't some wines vegan?
Wine is not considered vegan because it is made using animal-derived products, such as fining agents, which are used to clarify and stabilize the wine. These agents, which include casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), and gelatin (derived from animal bones and tissues), are used to remove impurities from the wine and make it clearer and more stable. While these agents are not present in the final product, they are used during the production process, which is why some vegans choose not to consume wine.
Fortunately, there are lots of wines that are vegan, such as:
Frey Vineyards Organic Red Wine
Red Truck Wines Trucker's Red Blend
La Vielle Ferme Red Blend
Black Box Wines Chardonnay
Vegan Vine Chardonnay
Domaine de la Vougeraie Pinot Noir
Montes Alpha M
Casal Garcia Vinho Verde
Toad Hollow Vineyards Pinot Noir
How to store leftovers
French onion soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days in an airtight container. However, it is best consumed within the first 2-3 days for maximum flavor and texture. The bread and cheese on top may become soggy if stored for too long. It's always recommended to reheat soup until hot before serving.
4 sweet onions, thinly sliced
4 tbsp vegan butter
Sprinkle of turbinado or cane sugar
2 tbsp chickpea flour (or all purpose flour)
7 c vegan "beef" flavored broth
¾ c dry white or red vegan wine*
2 bay leaves
4 slices of french baguette or rustic bread
4 slices vegan cheese**
Salt & pepper to taste
In a large pot, melt vegan butter over medium high heat. Then, lower heat to low and allow onions to cook slowly for 30-45 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the onion is not sticking to the pan. Half way through, add a sprinkle of sugar to enhance caramelization.
Sprinkle flour on top of onions, making sure to evenly coat the onions. Then add broth, wine, bay leaf, and desired salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes. The broth should be soupy and not thick.
Pour soup into crock bowls, leaving enough room to layer a piece of bread, and vegan cheese.
Place crock under broiler on high for 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on it so you can gauge when to remove - everyone's stove/oven/broiler is different! You want the cheese to melt, and brown a bit on top.
Remove from broiler using oven mitts, and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Serve & Enjoy!
* Not all wine is vegan. but there are plenty out there to choose from
** I recommend Violife's Smoked Sliced Gouda or Shredded Mozzarella cheese