Let’s talk about onions. How do you feel about them? Perhaps because of their pungency, they seem to incite strong feelings one way or another. In my case, our Facebook relationship status would be “It’s Complicated.” Remember when I told you how gross mayonnaise is? Well, I used to feel the same way about onions. Hated them. Would not go near them. Would not eat anything they had even touched.
I have been daydreaming about French Onion Soup for like four days and have been writing this post in my head for three. I am obsessed. How did I get to this place, you ask? Well, I learned that onions can be cooked into oblivion. When slow-cooked, they dissolve and impart a delectably rich flavour to every dish they meet. Once I wrapped my head around this concept, I gradually started to actually like the little tear-jerkers.
Oh, and I grew up and quit being such a whiner.
This recipe isn’t particularly innovative: a quickle Google search will give you oodles of French Onion Soup recipes with similar methods and ingredients. I have actually never eaten the stuff until today, as I understand it is usually made with beef broth and I’ve been a pescatarian for nearly twenty years. Plus, the whole anti-onion thing made this soup my literal nightmare in a bowl.
Turns out the secret to making this soup is caramelizing the onions for about an hour. Uncovered! Think about what this makes your house smell like! Think about what slicing five big onions means for your eyes! It’s worth it though. If you’re a reformed onion-loather or a French Onion Soup-deprived vegan or vegetarian, this one’s for you.
I don’t know if this tastes anything like the classic beef-based version, but hot damn is it ever tasty! Super rich and flavourful, the Daiya and bread really take it to another place– onion heaven.
Oh, and apparently an onion a day keeps the doctor away.
I used Michael Smith’s recipe (mostly because his name is a combination of my parent’s names) as a base and easily veganized it.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
5 white onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup brandy ( I imagine sherry or white wine would be nice too)
6 cups water (or vegetable stock– omit the bouillon cubes)
1 onion bouillon cube
1 mushroom bouillon cube
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp Bragg’s or wheat-free tamari
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Wheat-free bread of choice (I used Quinoa Barley bread– NOT gluten-free!)
Throw onions, vegan butter, splash of water, a pinch of salt, and oil into a large soup pot and turn heat to medium-high or high. Cover and let cook for around ten minutes, until the onions have softened and the water has evaporated.
Uncover and turn heat to low. Let the onions caramelize for around an hour, stirring every five minutes or so. As I write this, the onions have been doing their thing for 40 minutes. They are soft but not brown. They’d better get to browning!
Update: Onions have shrunk in size considerably. And I broke one of my lightbulbs while setting up the lightbox.
Not a golden colour at one hour. Turning up the heat to medium and watching carefully!
Cat has entered the lightbox. Does not bode well for the food that will soon be in there.
I don’t know why I am live blogging this. Sorry.
Screw it. Onions aren’t dark brown.
Add the brandy, bouillon cubes, water, Bragg’s and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer uncovered for fifteen minutes.
Turn on broiler and cut bread to fit your bowl. Toast it.
Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls and top with toast. Sprinkle with as much Daiya as your heart desires.
Broil until Daiya is melted.
Serves 4. While very tasty, I would not recommend this as a weekday soup, as it takes awhile to caramelize the onions. Make it on the weekend unless you like eating at 9:30 pm.