Friday 21 February 2014

Foodie Friday - Vegetarian French Onion Soup

I know what your thinking, surely all soups with vegetables at their heart should be vegetarian, well they aren't. Traditionally French onion soup is made with a dark and rich beef stock which gives it it's depth and flavour, check out any supermarket brand and I can pretty much guarantee that they are all meat based. Grr annoying! especially when I've been craving the stuff for months! So I decided to put my thinking cap on and try to make a veggie onion soup.

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

1 tbsp Olive Oil 
1oz Butter
4 Large Onions 
2 Cloves Garlic 
2 tsp Light Brown Sugar
1 Litre Vegetable Stock
Salt And Pepper To Taste 

1. Pop your olive oil and butter into a large saucepan 

2. Crush or roughly chop your garlic and add it to your pan and cook gently to softened. It's always better to put garlic into a cold pan to stop it burning and going bitter.

3. In the meantime tissues at the ready it's time to chop your onions. I chopped mine into half rings, you don't want to chop it too small. I used 5 smaller onions here which equalled about 600g when it was chopped x

4. Then add your onions to your pan and cook over a medium heat

5. In the meantime make your stock up you want about a litre x I just used vegetarian stock cubes.

6. Keep stirring your onions you don't want them crispy but you want them to be softened and just starting to turn translucent and golden. This can take a while so don't be tempted to turn the heat up

7. Now here's where the recipe gets a little bit strange, once the onions are soft and translucent sprinkle your sugar over the top and mix it in to the onions x

8. Continue to cook the onions until they've caramelised and turned a lovely rich golden brown colour. Unless you have a non stick pan keep stirring because they can catch on and burn really easily, and be patient again this stage can take a little while x

9. Ideally your onions should be a little bit darker than this but once they've reached that sticky, sweet, soft stage you can add your stock.

10. Simmer for about 20 minutes till your onions are completely soft. Then season with salt and pepper to taste.

11. Then serve, with either crusty bread or in the traditional way with some toasted baguette and melted cheese, or as I'm doing some gluten free ciabatta, toasted and covered with melted cheddar just dropped into the hot soup - yummy!

This recipe makes 4 bowls and was fine kept in the fridge for a couple of days and I can imagine it would also be okay to freeze it.

I have to be honest and say that this was nothing like the French onion soup of my childhood. The beef stock was obviously the thing that elevated it to such high heights in my memory. This was nice but it was different, instead of the intense savoury taste this was a lot mellower and unsurprisingly I guess more vegetable like.

If, and when I make this again I'll definitely make a few changes. No I won't be using beef stock but I think instead of using just bog standard vegetable stock cubes, I'll either use a homemade vegetable stock or I'll buy a good quality fresh one or I'll use a better quality of powder or cube than what I used here. - A good stock is so important for this soup as it makes up such a high percentage of the flavour. I also think that this soup would benefit from a few more flavourings, I'm thinking that the addition of a sprinkle of  Provencal herbs such as thyme would make a big difference, so that's definitely something that I will try. This recipe is perfectly nice as it it, but for me it's a bit of a work in progress and I can see this appearing on my dinner menu quite regularly now until I get it right.

Are you a fan of onion soup? and are you like me and do you make a recipe again, and again till you get it right? Let me know in the comments x 

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