Vegetarian French Onion Soup is one of our favourite healthy soups to enjoy during the cold Fall and Winter months.
Our homemade Vegetarian French Onion Soup recipe is quick and easy to make, ready to serve in under 2 hours.
Spoon through a bowl of our healthy Vegetarian French Onion Soup featuring flavourful garlic, onions, sherry, thyme, mushroom broth, Worcestershire sauce and gruyere cheese.
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What Is Soup?
Soup is a liquid food, generally served warm or hot (but can also be served cold like gazpacho), that is prepared by combining meat or vegetables with stock or water.
Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavours are extracted, creating a rich broth.
Soups are similar to stews, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two. Soups generally have more liquid (broth) than chunkier and heartier stews.
In traditional French cuisine, soups are classified into two groups: clear soups (bouillon and consomme) and thick soups (purees, bisques, veloutes).
Purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from puréed shellfish or vegetables thickened with cream; cream soups may be thickened with béchamel sauce; and veloutés are thickened with eggs, butter, and cream.
History of Soup
Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC. Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers, such as clay pots. To boil the water hot rocks were used.
The word soup comes from French soupe (broth), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa (“bread soaked in broth”) from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word “sop”, a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.
The word restaurant (meaning “restoring”) was first used in France in the 16th century, to refer to a highly concentrated, inexpensive soup, sold by street vendors, that was advertised as a cure to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word restaurant for eating establishments.
In America, the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, based on Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife; or Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion, and it included several recipes for soups and bisques.
English cooking dominated early colonial cooking; but as new immigrants arrived from other countries, other national soups gained popularity. In particular, German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were famous for their potato soups. In 1794, Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien, a refugee from the French Revolution, opened an eating establishment in Massachusetts called The Restorator, and became known as the “Prince of Soups”.
Travel to Europe by Cooking Vegetarian Onion Soup at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia,Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
What I love most about traveling to France is the opportunity to sample unique dishes in each region and city. The dishes in Paris and Versailles are unique to what you might find on restaurant menus in Normandy, Chateauneuf de Pape, Provence, Epernay, Reims, Dijon and Annecy.
Once back home from a French holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of France and can impress friends and family by making our easy Vegetarian French Onion Soup recipe.
Travel to the cute Swiss town of Gruyere in French-speaking Switzerland and you can sample some of the best French Onion Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches prepared with the town’s world famous cheese. Film buffs also adore the haunting HR Giger Museum, the genius behind the Aliens franchise.
Where To Eat French Onion Soup
If you live in a large city in North America you’ll likely have access to plenty of soup-specific restaurants. We also love to visit local, family-run diners and cafes that offer menus specializing in “soups, sandwiches and salads.”
In Toronto, popular restaurants that serve soup include RaviSoups, Soup Nutsy, United Bakers Dairy, Cafe Polonez, Saffron Spice Kitchen, Santouka Ramen, Sansotei Ramen, Kenzo Ramen, Kinton Ramen, Ajisen Ramen, Maison Selby, Pho Vistro, Pho Hung, The Golden Turtle, Maha’s, Pai, Sabai Sabai, Khao San Road, One Love Vegetarian and Fabarnak.
You’re most likely to find classic onion soup at French restaurants such as Maison Selby, La Palette, La Societe French Bistro, Le Select Bistro, Cafe Boulud at Four Seasons Hotel, Aloette, Auberge du Pommier, Cluny Bistro, Cafe Cancan, Coffee Oysters Champagne, Chabrol, La Banane and Union.
My Family Loves Vegetarian French Onion Soup
My dad would often make cream of tomato soup and serve a bowl with grilled cheese sandwiches and pickles. Our family also loved slurping through bowls of Butternut Squash Soup and Chicken Noodle Soup.
During October in Ontario we’d often visit popular Fall Fairs in Norfolk County, Niagara and Prince Edward County to go on fun rides, run through corn mazes and purchase fresh local fruits and vegetables at the peak of harvest season.
My father really loves French Onion Soup. He’ll eat any dish topped with caramelized onions, swoons for buttered baguette, is a big fan of fine wine and adores creamy Swiss cheese.
My dad used to make French Onion Soup for my sister and I when we were kids on cold days in the Fall or whenever there was a blizzard in the Winter. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of warming up on a cold day by peeling a bubbling layer of stringy cheese of a floating bread boat while the aroma of caramelized onions wafts through your hair!
Is French Onion Soup Vegetarian?
French Onion Soup is traditionally prepared with butter, wine, onions, Swiss cheese, sourdough baguette and beef stock.
You can transform the classic French soup recipe into a vegetarian friendly dish by substituting beef stock with mushroom broth or vegetable broth.
One of the most distinct aspects of an authentic French Onion Soup flavour profile is umami. The Japanese word describes “savouriness” and is one of the five basic tastes.
In a traditional recipe, caramelized onions combine with dry or fortified wine and rich beef stock to provide a salty taste on the tongue. Our easy Vegetarian French Onion Soup recipe also features the desirable umami flavour thanks to the addition of mushroom broth and vegan Worcestershire sauce. You can also add a few drops of soy sauce to liven up the flavours.
We prefer using mushroom stock as it mimics beef broth in that it has a dark appearance and is similarly rich in umami. You can also use vegetable stock if that is what you have available or prefer.
You can buy mushroom stock at most grocery stores or health food stores. Or, if you like tinkering in the kitchen, why not make your own homemade mushroom stock?
Looking to enjoy a Vegan French Onion Soup recipe? You’ll need to substitute butter for olive oil and gruyere cheese for your favourite vegan cheese. Just make sure the vegan cheese product you purchase has melting properties so it oozes and gets stringy like mozzarella or gruyere.
Vegetarian French Onion Soup Health Benefits
Our Vegetarian French Onion Soup recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of leeks can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins: riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. The combination helps protect heart health.
Rich in energy-boosting manganese and anti-inflamatory phytochemicals, thyme may help keep your blood and immune system healthy.
Vegetarian French Onion Soup Tips
This healthy homemade vegetarian soup is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips for first time soup makers!
- Use a large cast iron dutch oven with a high rim to reduce splatter when cooking.
- We suggest using a high quality rubber spatula spoon when making soup so you can easily stir, scrape down the side of the pot and sip to check if it needs to be seasoned further with more salt before spooning into bowls.
- You’ll save yourself plenty of tears and time by slicing all of the onions in a food processor. If you’re slicing onions by hand, use our funny trick to avoid crying at your cutting board. Simply strap on your swimming goggles and chop away!
- We’ve used mushroom stock in this recipe because we love its umami flavour, which mimics beef broth. You can also use vegetable broth.
- Make this recipe vegan by substituting butter for olive oil and gruyere cheese for your favourite vegan cheese.
What To Serve with Vegetarian French Onion Soup
If you’re hosting a large dinner party you might want to serve our healthy Vegetarian French Onion Soup as an appetizer before serving heartier mains. We love serving this soup with Osaka Okonomayaki, Calgary Ginger Beef, Keto Jalapeno Poppers, Instant Pot Short Rib Ragu, Cheesy Polenta, Vegetarian Roti Canai Curry, Gruyere Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Old School Cheese and Onion Pie, Green Onion Cake, Baked Mediterranean Chicken Thighs, Baked Chicken Cracklings, Homemade Savoury Pickle Pie, Indian Crepes, Vietnamese Crepe Bánh Xèo, Tartiflette Reblochon or Ricotta Gnocchi.
After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe or Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers.
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If you have leftover Vegetarian French Onion Soup you can store the soup base in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. To reheat simply zap it in the microwave or simmer in a small saucepan on the stove.
Do not store the soup in the fridge or freezer with baguette slices and shredded cheeses. Store the leftover cheese and bread separately in ziplock bags and assemble in bowls and gratin in the oven when ready to eat.
We love doubling our soup recipes so can store leftovers in the freezer and save time on cooking in the kitchen. We suggest storing leftover soup in Pyrex freezer safe containers that have a snug lid so there’s not spilling. My mother often uses old glass pasta sauce jars to store soup in the freezer.
Be sure to let your soup reach room temperature before storing it in the freezer. If you add a hot jar of soup to a cold freezer it will significantly reduce the interior temperature and potentially spoil your food.
How To Make Healthy Vegetarian French Onion Soup
Easy Vegetarian French Onion Soup
- Dutch Oven
- French knife
- measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- Wooden spoon
- cheese grater
- 5 tbsp Butter
- 2 Garlic cloves minced
- 5 Large sweet onions sliced
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp White sugar
- 2 tbsp All purpose flour
- 6 cups Mushroom broth
- 1 tbsp Vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup Sherry
- 1/4 tsp Fresh thyme
- 1/4 tsp Ground black pepper
- 1 French Baguette sliced
- 14 oz Gruyere cheese shredded
- Heat butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Add garlic, sliced onions and salt and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remain at the stove, stirring every few minutes to ensure the onions do not burn.
- Add 1 teaspoon of sugar, turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Continue cooking for approximately 50 minutes, until onions are golden brown and caramelized.
- Remove the lid and add flour to the caramelized onions. Mix well and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add mushroom broth, Worcestershire sauce, sherry, thyme and cracked pepper and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice baguette in 1/2 inch rounds and toast until crunchy.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place 4-6 oven proof bowls on the baking sheet and ladle soup into the bowls. Add 3 tbsp of shredded gruyere cheese to each bowl, mix well.
- Gently place one or two slices of bread on the top of each soup bowl then sprinkle with 1/4 cup of gruyere cheese per bowl.
- Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbling.
- Broil for 1-2 minutes, keeping an eye so the bread doesn’t burn. Serve immediately.
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Some of the links in this story use affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through our site, dobbernationLOVES will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps us to produce comprehensive content.