This easy vegetarian French onion soup is adapted from a recipe by Delia Smith and is the best I've ever tasted. To serve it in the most delicious and traditional way, it is baked with crunchy bread and golden melting cheese. For this you will need to use an oven proof soup tureen or individual oven proof French onion soup bowls. Personally, I love to use individual bowls - they look great and they make serving the soup a lot easier.
Take a look on Amazon.com for French Onion Soup bowls. They have a really good selection through all price ranges.
French onion soup is traditionally made with beef stock and some purists will tell you that it cannot be a part of vegetarian cooking. Nonsense! To state the obvious, the most important flavour in French onion soup comes from the onions. Taking the time to cook them for a long time is crucial and is what will make your soup taste amazing. That means that French onion soup does take longer to cook than most soups but, rest assured, it is very easy to make.
If you have trouble finding vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (most versions contain anchovies), you can leave it out although it does add a good bite. It's also a very useful item to have on hand to add a richness and depth to veggie casseroles, sauces and burgers. If you have trouble finding it, a good option is Annie's Naturals organic Worcestershire sauce which is available from Amazon.. Now back to those ingredients....
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ stick/50g butter
700g/7 cups of thinly sliced onions
½ teaspoon of sugar
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
5 cups/1¼ litres of hot vegetable stock
1 cup/225mls dry white wine
1 tablespoon of vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
6 slices of French bread
2 cups/225g of grated cheese - Gruyere or Emmenthal are good here
You will also need a large heavy based casserole or Dutch oven and oven-proof French onion soup bowls.
Heat the olive oil and butter in the casserole or Dutch oven over a medium to high heat. Toss in the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar, turn the heat right down and cook without a lid for about half an hour at which stage the onions should be dark brown and caramelised but not burnt.
Stir in the garlic and cook for a few seconds, then add in the stock, wine, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then turn to very low and simmer very, very gently without a lid for about 45 minutes.
To serve the soup, you can use the casserole or Dutch oven that you cooked it in, provided it is oven-proof or you can use individual bowls. Heat the broiler (grill) to its highest setting. Lightly toast the French bread. Ladle the hot soup into the oven-proof French onion soup bowls, top each bowl with a slice of toast and some grated cheese. Place under broiler (grill) until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve your vegetarian French onion soup at once.