Sunday, January 31, 2010

vegetarian french onion soup


I have only eaten french onion soup twice in my life. The first time was in an irish pub in Boston a couple of years ago when we were there for JR's marathon. The second time was a few weeks ago in Seattle with my friend Jill at
Cafe Presse, a small french restaurant on Capitol Hill. The first wasn't spectacular (hence the long stretch until the next). The Cafe Presse french onion soup was amazing. Maybe it was partly the lovely day we were having (our girls' day out included mimosas, manicures, and lots of conversation and catching up). But the soup was good. Really good.

I've been wanting to make it since. I received the most beautiful cobalt blue little pots from my mother for Christmas. Perfect for individual servings of french onion soup.

The following recipe was adapted from William Sonoma's A Taste of the World. I halved the original recipe and made it vegetarian by replacing the beef broth with Pacific Natural Organic Mushroom Broth. As it was simmering, the whole house filled with a mushroomy smell that made me a little nervous for the resulting flavor of the soup. But it turned out sooooo delicious. Melt in your mouth oniony-bready-cheesey (and not at all mushroomy). If you like french onion soup (or if you think you might), this is a must try!

Vegetarian French Onion Soup
Serves 2

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
pinch of brown sugar
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 c. red wine
4 c. mushroom stock
1 bay leaf
2 thick slices coarse country bread, sliced 1 1/2" thick
1 c. shredded Gruyere

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add onion and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are meltingly soft, golden, and lightly caramelized, 25-30 minutes.

Add wine. Raise heat to high. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 8-10 minutes. Add stock and bay leaf. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until soup is dark and fully flavored, about 45 minutes. If the liquid is evaporating too quickly and tastes too strong, add a little water, cover, and continue.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange bread on a baking sheet. Toast, turning once, until golden, 3-5 minutes per side.

Remove bay leaf from soup. Ladle into oven-proof individual serving dishes. Place on a cookie sheet. Place toast on top of soup in each bowl, then sprinkle with cheese. Bake until the cheese melts and is browned around the edges, 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!

This is a pic of my croque madame and the french onion soup that Jill and I shared at Cafe Presse.
Yes, it was so tasty and beautiful I took a picture of it!

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