My teenage son recently demanded that he be taken to the French restaurant down the street because everyone in the family and *all* of his friends had eaten there … everyone we knew, in fact, except him. He wanted an authentic French meal, whatever that means, but he didn’t go for the mussels and pommes frites that I suggested.
His choice was French Onion Soup and butter lettuce salad. I warned him that the beef stock in the soup might be too strong for his mostly vegetarian palate, but he insisted. Not surprisingly, he ate the cheese and bread off the top, finished the salad, and then said he didn’t really like the soup part.
Luckily for him, I got this recipe from my aunt a couple of decades ago, and whipped some up last week when the rains hit Northern California with a vengeance. Cooking sherry or brandy adds a nice bit of flavor to the vegie stock, butter, and onions. Even my finicky 7-year-old ate part of a bowl, because, come on, who doesn’t like melted cheese on toast infused with the essence of onions? And the teenager ate 2 bowls for dinner and another bowl for lunch the next day. Maybe he’ll try mussels someday, too.
Here’s the recipe and directions after the jump. Note the well-worn look of my own recipe (above, left). It looks like it’s about time to recopy it!
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Vegetarian French Onion Soup
6 yellow onions peeled and thinly sliced
Stick of butter For vegans, use your butter substitute of choice.
6 cups vegetable stock You could also use mushroom stock or water.
1/3 cup cooking sherry or brandy
Salt and pepper to taste I like a lot of pepper.
French bread slices, about half an inch thick
Cheese for melting on top. Provolone, Gruyere, Swiss, and mozzarella are all good choices.
- Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot. Throw the onions in and saute until the onions are translucent and soft, about 15 minutes (stir occasionally).
- Once the onions have cooked down, add the broth and sherry. Simmer for half an hour, then season with salt and pepper.
- While the soup cooks, toast the slices of bread, and grate or slice the cheese. Also, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Ladle soup into oven safe bowls, leaving about half an inch of space at the top.
- Place toasted bread on top of soup, then cover with cheese, either slices or grated.
- Put the bowls into a preheated oven and bake until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. You may want to turn the oven to Broil if the top isn’t brown enough for your tastes. Watch the process closely; I only needed to leave mine under the broiler for about 2 minutes.
- Pull the bowls out of the oven. Put potholders or heat pads under them when you serve them on the table, and be sure to warn your guests or family that the bowls are hot!
- A delicious supper is this soup, served with a simple green salad, and a glass of wine. Enjoy!