For some reason it never occurred to me that I could probably make a reasonably good French onion soup with vegetable broth. I’ve always assumed the classic hot bubbly cheese-topped soup was off my list due to its beef base.
Over New Year’s we spent a night in Indianapolis and enjoyed dinner at a Scottish Pub called MacNivens. A good variety of veggie-friendly dishes surprised me, and I happily started with a vegetarian onion soup — a dish I’ve long lusted over. One taste and I knew I could do this.
I consulted my Vegetarian Bistro cookbook later and sure enough, there on page 27 was a recipe for Gratinée Des Halles (named for the onion soup long served at the old Paris market, Les Halles).
I tried it out at lunch today. Simple, rich, satisfying, nothing more you could ask for a Sunday lunch.
It goes likes this (I made half a batch for the two of us):
Slowly cook a pound or so thinly sliced onions for half an hour or so in vegetable oil (I used olive) in a heavy cast iron enamelware pot. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of sugar.
When they’re soft and golden add 4 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil then simmer another half hour or so.
Pour into ovenproof bowls and add a tot of red wine. Top with toasted bread and smother with cheese. The recipe calls for gruyere but I used what I had which was mozzarella. Broil until the cheese bubbles.