Super Easy Vegetarian French Onion Soup

So, as you may know from my prior blog posts- I am quitting smoking.  Almost up to 4 weeks.

What you may not know (I did not), is that when you quit smoking, you feel like garbage for weeks. Your lungs seize up with all this new oxygen and then start trying to make you cough-barf up 20 years of tar and whatnot.  Like you have a super bad chest cold, and maybe a flu on top, cause you're exhausted.

It is not the best.  Point is- I've been feeling sick.

I don't know about y'all, but when I'm sick- I want soup.  French onion is my favorite.  I used to just keep cans of it around in case I got sick.  But I went vegetarian, so now I can't eat the canned kind, b/c they use beef broth.  Bleh.  

And who wants to spend a full hour dinking around browning onions when you feel sick?  Cause the waiting on the onions to brown but not letting them burn thing-- it blows.

But I have found a really easy way to make it in a crockpot, and I am so happy.  French onion soup is back in my life in a big way.  And I'm gonna tell you how to do it too.  And keep it vegan, if you're vegan.

You will need--

  • A crockpot
  • 2-3 pounds of onions
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • vegan butter/margarine/coconut oil (any of these will work)
  • veggie broth- either some you've made or 1 of those large cardboard cartons
  • salt and pepper
  • a bay leaf
  • basic spices that you prefer-- oregano, basil, parsley, garlic powder at least. You can also include cayenne pepper or chili powder- depending on your own taste.
  • Balsamic vinegar or red cooking wine 
  • Additional optional seasoning- Veggie worcestershire sauce (you have to check, sometimes it has anchovies) and sriracha (The Hoy Fong brand w/ the rooster is vegan)

Also, this process takes roughly a day and a half, but it's mostly the crockpot doing the work for you.

Part 1--  The Brownening

Plug the crockpot in and set it on low.  Peel your onions and cut them in half. Thinly slice the onions and put them in the crockpot.  Peel the garlic and smash the cloves thru a garlic press or finely dice them and add to the crockpot.  

Add about a teaspoon of either vegan butter, margarine, coconut oil.  One of either, not one of each.  You want to add a little fat into the soup to give it some richness.

Then you are going to season.  Add good shakes of all the basic spices (oregano, basil, parsley and whatever optional ones you prefer).  I like it spicy, so I add a good bit of the chili powder.  Add 1 bay leaf.

Make sure you use the salt and pepper. And add the veggie worcestershire sauce and sriracha.

I don't really do measurements when I'm cooking like this, cause this is down South gramma cooking and you keep adding and tasting until it looks right.  

But here are some general seasoning rules-- add a little salt at each step of cooking b/c some things absorb salt better as they are cooking and you can add a little at the beginning where it would take a lot more later.  Be careful of over salting, b/c too much salt makes it not edible and it's difficult to fix.

You can be a bit more generous with pepper.  And you can be even more generous with your dried spices like parsley and oregano.   When it comes to those, put what you think is a good amount and then add a bit more.  

Always be careful with hot sauce and chili powder if you are cooking for people who don't like spicy food.  I loooove hot sauce and I am very glad Josh does too.  So I can go a little heavy handed without having to worry that I'm going to set his mouth on fire.

I suggest doing the cutting up the onions part an hour of two before you head off to bed.  Then the onions have all night to brown up while you sleep.  Make sure it's set on low. (I fucking LOVE crockpots!)

Part 2-- Broth Boogaloo.

You wake up the next morning, and your onions are going to be all awesome and brown.  There will be cooked off oniony liquid goodness too.  Yessss.

Don't be worried if the top onions bits seem slightly burnt.  They're fine. 

Take your veggie broth and pour it into the crockpot.  Stir and taste.  Season the soup again, adjusting for how it tastes-- if you'd like it a little spicier, add a little extra sriracha.  Add either the red cooking wine or balsamic vinegar.  Balsamic vinegar is pretty concentrated, so you don't need much compared to the wine.

You should leave the crock pot on low all day.  Every 2-3 hours, stir the soup and check the spicing.  Adjust the spices as you go to make it taste like the soup you like best.

By dinner time, it will be done.  I like it by itself, but traditionally you would eat it with bread and melted cheese, so if you like that, then pick vegan bread and cheese options to keep it vegan (if you prefer).

And that's it.  Easy peesy.