This post is long overdue. A few weeks ago, Alena and I were trying to think of something delicious and comforting and warming to make for dinner, and she suggested French Onion Soup. I have often wondered if it is possible to make a vegetarian version that tastes like the real thing, since it's traditionally made with beef broth. Well, it IS possible, and let me tell you: it was DELICIOUS.
The trick is to use the right kind of vegetable broth... some recipes I found on the internet suggested "No-Beef Broth", but we couldn't find it, so we used mushroom broth instead.
Here is the recipe, which is taken from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking:
5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 T butter
1 T oil
1 t salt
1/4 t sugar
3 T flour
2 quarts boiling MUSHROOM BROTH
1/2 cup dry write wine or sweet vermouth (we used the former)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 T cognac
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread
1 to 2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan (I think we used greuyere)
-Cook the onions slowly with the butter and oil in the covered saucepan for 15 minutes.
-Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and sitr in the salt and sugar. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown.
-Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.
-Off the heat, blend in the boiling broth. Add the wine, and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minuts or more, skimming occasionally. Correct seasoning.
-Stir in the cognac and pour into ceramic soup bowls (they need to be oven-safe).
-Float the rounds of toast on top of the soup, and spread the grated cheese over it. Sprinkle with a little oil or butter. Bake for 20 minutes in the oven, then set for a minute or two under a preheated broiler to brown the top lightly. Serve immediately.
We were nervous about putting our bowls in the oven, so Suzanne had the idea to put them in a baking dish with an inch of water to prevent cracking:
Here is the finished product. It far surpassed my expectations! The wine and cognac and long-cooked onion makes the flavor so rich and delicious. YES!