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Meatless Monday: French Onion Soup and Cheesy Toasts


Living in New England, I find myself craving soups, stews and crocks of chili this time of year. I love making a huge pot on Sunday when I have the time to mill about in the kitchen. Our house smells amazing, I am in my “happy place” and we’ll have soup for dinner and a few lunches during the week. Sometimes I’ll make two soups and then divide and freeze them so I can have access to an easy and quick weeknight meal when things are hectic during the week. My family loves when dinner consists of a big bowl of soup with a hunk of toasted bread to dip in the broth. And they especially love when my husband, Jesse makes his famous chili (not meatless!). They top their crock of chili with shredded cheese and a pile of delicious crispy tortilla chips. There is something so warm, satisfying and nourishing about tucking into a meal in a bowl on a cold night.

One of our favorite recipes is French onion soup. It has all the flavor combinations one can ask for: sweet onions, salty broth, rich gooey cheese, crusty garlicky bread. Are you hungry yet? If you can find it, I highly recommend using fresh thyme, as it really makes a difference. I also cook the onions on a medium-low heat for a while, letting them get soft and caramelized, making the soup even richer and sweeter. Because traditional French onion soup is made with a beef broth, I tweaked my recipe to use a vegetable broth. If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own broth, the boxed or canned versions are great. Just make sure you choose one with low sodium as they can tend to be very salty.

Also, please note that my family doesn’t love the traditional way of serving French onion soup (floating the toast in the soup and letting it get soggy). So, we serve our crusty, browned, decadent cheesy bread on the side. Dunking is definitely encouraged.

VEGETARIAN FRENCH ONION SOUP

  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter

  • 2 TBSP olive oil

  • 4 cups sliced sweet Vidalia onions

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

  • 4 x (10.5 ounce) cans vegetable broth or 8 cups home-made vegetable broth (see recipe below)

  • 2 TBSP dry sherry (optional)

  • 1 TBSP fresh thyme minced (recommended) or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

     

CHEESY TOASTS:

  • 4 slices bread (sliced thick)

  • drizzle of olive oil

  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

  • garlic powder

  • 1/4 cup shredded provolone cheese

  • 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • minced fresh thyme (recommended) or dried thyme

Directions

  1. Melt the butter and olive oil in an 8 quart stock pot over medium-low heat. Add onions, sea salt, pepper and garlic powder, mix well. Let them sauté for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Go have a glass of wine, fold some laundry or play a game of cards. The onions aren’t going anywhere and you’ll be happy at how delicious your soup tastes!

  2. Add broth, sherry and thyme. Taste, and add more sea salt and pepper if you like. Simmer for at least 1 hour.

  3. During the last few minutes that the soup is cooking, heat the oven broiler.

  4. Drizzle each slice of bread with a tiny bit of olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place on a piece of foil and broil for about 3 minutes, but be careful not to let them burn.

  5. Take them out of the oven and top each slice with a bit of each type of shredded cheese.

  6. Place back in the broiler for about 2 more minutes. Again, watch carefully so that the cheese doesn’t burn.

  7. Sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme on top of the cheesy toasts just before serving.

  8. Ladle the soup into a bowl and serve with a slice of cheesy bread.

  9. Enjoy!

For a delicious, rich and super easy vegetable broth, check out the Minimalist Baker’s recipe. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

With love,

Jane


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