There are many variations of this classic French soup, but this version is the best. It is redolent of sweet caramelized onion flavor and is deeply satisfying. Combining two types of vegetable broths and water added to maximum flavor. We toasted the bread before floating it on the soup to prevent extra sogginess and added a modest amount of vegan cheese so the broth wasn't overpowered. It takes some time to make this soup, but be patient, the result is well worth it.
French Onion Soup [Vegan]
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil, plus extra for greasing the pot
- 6 large yellow onions, halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- Pink Himalayan salt
- 2 cups water, plus extra for de-glazing
- 1/2 cup dry sherry wine
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups Vegan "Beef" Broth
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
- 1 bay leaf
- Ground black pepper
- 6-12 1/2-inch slices gluten-free bread
- 2 1/2 cups meltable vegan cheese
- Prepare the ingredients.
- For the soup: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400°F. Generously grease inside of heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with avocado oil.
- Place 3 tablespoons oil in pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume).
- Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.
- Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly.
- Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.)
- Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of de-glazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.
- For the croutons: While soup simmers, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400°F oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
- To serve: Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 toasted bread slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
If using ordinary soup bowls, sprinkle the toasted bread slices with cheese and return them to the broiler until the cheese melts, then float them on top of the soup. You may need 1 or 2 bread slices per bowl, depending on how large they are. For this recipe, it is better to use grain-based gluten-free bread, which is closer in texture to the traditional baguette. Grain-free bread is usually too crummy and tends to fall apart quickly when you put it on top broth. For the cheese, you want to use meltable vegan cheese like Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds that we used for this recipe. Not all vegan cheeses melt easily, so this is something to keep in mind. Sometimes mozzarella style shreds lack flavor, and you can remedy that by tossing them with some salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. For the best flavor, make the soup a day or 2 in advance. Alternatively, the onions can be prepared through step 1, cooled in the pot, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe.