Vegetarian French Onion Soup

I’ve always loved French onion soup, so when I stopped eating meat I went into a slight period of mourning over the loss of such an amazing food.  Several months later, I realized that Trader Joe’s sells a really good frozen vegetarian version and that kept me satisfied for months.  I think I was the only crazy person at the checkout with 6 at a time, but it was worth the side-eye I received.  So, earlier this month I was elated when I saw on Farmgirl Gourmet’s website (she was my Secret Recipe Club pick this month) that she had a recipe for a homemade vegetarian French onion soup.  Score!  Having made it and enjoyed it, I can now go on for the rest of my life without meat.  I feel culinarily complete.

Jake, my dad, and I ate this while watching Steelers football, and it’s a great addition to the Sunday football rotation.  Chili is the obvious soup choice but today’s sweet onion base with a hot cheesy crust is quite perfect as well.  Plus, much like chili, it is very simple to make.  You just throw it together in the morning and let it take care of itself on the stove for a few hours.  If only kids were that easy!

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

3 tablespoons butter
10 cups sliced onions, mix of sweet and yellow
1-2 cups sliced shallots
~2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
7 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
baguette slices
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mix of provolone and swiss)

Melt the butter in a large heavy dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the onions, shallots, garlic powder, and salt and stir to combine.  Cover with the lid and turn the heat down to medium low.  Cook the onions for 4 hours(or more depending on how many onions you use), stirring occasionally so they don’t burn.  Turn down the heat if the onions are cooking too quickly.  They will release a lot of water and this is OK, continue to let them cook until they are a deep golden brown in color and with just a little liquid left.  If necessary, let it simmer uncovered so that some of the liquid will evaporate.

Meanwhile, toast the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Remove and set aside.

Once the onions are a deep golden brown, turn the heat up to high and add the broth, red wine, and vinegar.  Stir to incorporate and bring to a boil.  Taste for seasoning.  Add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Preheat the broiler.  Ladle soup into 4 oven-proof bowls, top with the toasted baguette slices and 1/2 cup cheese on each.  Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove immediately and serve.

Source: Inspired by Farmgirl Gourmet

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  1. This really looks great — I’m happy it’s slowly turning into soup weather!

  2. Where is the Lily picture? I say boycott veg onion soup until a Lily picture is posted. In fact, I’m so ticked off I demand TWO Lily pictures

  3. Oh this soup looks incredible, all cheesy and gooey!

  4. Ooh, I love french onion soup + this version looks + sounds just wonderful!

  5. Oh man! This looks amazing!! I have always wanted to make a french onion soup, and I think your photos are all the kick in the pants I needed! Great job! :)

  6. I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe. It’s great to find your blog as well. Gorgeous photos!! :)

  7. Wonderful soup for fall! Great SRC pick!

  8. This looks fantastic! French onion soup is one of my bucket list recipes!

  9. This looks really tasty! It seems cruel that something as innocently named as “onion soup” should be off the menu to vegetarians – I’m glad you’ve found one we can enjoy too!

  10. Yummy that looks amazing!!

  11. I don’t get it…the only animal element of french onion soup is beef stock- not exactly a revelation to swap it with veg stock!

    • Sam – There are literally thousands of recipes for French onion soup and this is a vegetarian one that I loved. I didn’t just swap out one ingredient as there are several ways to create a depth of flavor. Cheer up! It’s just soup!

  12. i agree that TJ’s french onion soup is amazing!

    beautiful photos. I wish I had one of these soups right now

  13. I am a vegetarian and do not eat cheese made of animal rennet. Any ideas of what cheese would be a good substitute for gruyere?

    • Yes, of course. Many groceries (especially ones with natural or kosher sections) sell cheeses made with microbial or vegetable rennet. If you have a store with a good cheese section nearby, be sure to ask them! Also, if all else fails, you can use vegan “cheese” which is in the dairy section.


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