Monday, February 25, 2013

Vegetarian French Onion Soup with Dijon Gruyere Croutons

Sometimes, you just need some comfort food. Anyone with me on this one? It has been one of those weeks. Remember that strange feeling of "not belonging" that I wrote about not too long ago? Yeah, I'm still feeling it. So I realized that I needed something that would warm my insides and make me happier. And there's nothing happier than some French onion soup with some cheesy goodness on top.

I decided to spend my precious day off from work today in the kitchen making this here soup. So surprising, right? Let's just say I spent the afternoon crying. Ok, I'm not that depressed people, it's just that when you have to peel and slice practically a whole bag of onions to make this soup, you just can't avoid shedding some tears. But all that crying was worth it.

You'll notice in the recipe below that I use a homemade vegetable stock. I haven't bought a box of packaged vegetable broth in years. I have practically eliminated all packaged items from my kitchen, and that includes those boxes of vegetable broth. I've been playing around recently with making different variations of vegetable stocks using everything from mushrooms to winter squash and the results have been great. The all-purpose stock recipe that I used in this soup is extremely simple and straightforward. I bet you probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen right now. If you are going to use packaged broth, be sure it's organic and doesn't have any questionable ingredients in it.
I understand that a bowl of soup of the French Onion variety typically has lots of ooey gooey melted cheese bubbling over the sides of the bowl. And when times are tough, there's nothing wrong with that. But these croutons I tell ya, they're good. You see, my husband is not a fan of ooey gooey cheesy things, so I had to compromise on this one and skimp on the cheese. And honestly, the croutons were awesome, so I wasn't disappointed in the slightest.

Vegetarian French Onion Soup with Dijon Gruyere Croutons (serves two generously)

For the Soup:
8 yellow onions, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil if you want the soup to be vegan)
3 bay leaves
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup dry sherry wine
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 cups vegetable broth (preferably homemade, see recipe below)

1. In a large pot over medium heat, add butter (or olive oil), onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and sea salt. Stir to combine and when onions start to soften, lower the heat. Let the onions slowly cook, stirring occasionally, about one hour until they are caramelized and brown and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Remove the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves.

2. Add the sherry to the pot and cook another 10 minutes. Then add the dijon mustard and vegetable broth. Stir and let simmer another 10 minutes. Taste and add salt if you think it needs it. Ladle into bowls and top with croutons.

For the Croutons:
2-3 large slices rustic whole grain bread, cut into 1" cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons dijon mustard
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup finely grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese (optional if you want to keep the soup vegan)

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients and toss to coat the bread cubes. Lay the bread cubes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until the croutons are golden brown and sizzling. Remove from the oven and top the bowls of soup with croutons and an extra sprinkling of cheese.

Quick and Easy Homemade Vegetable Stock (makes 4-5 cups of stock)
3 large carrots, cut into 1" pieces
1 large onion, cubed
3 stalks celery, cut into 1" pieces
6 cloves garlic, each peeled and cut in half
2 bay leaves
fresh or dried herbs of your choice (I like parsley, rosemary, and thyme)

In a pot, add all of the ingredients and cover with 6 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer uncovered for one hour or more. Strain through a fine mesh strainer before using.

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  1. Oh yes I need to try this recipe! Looks delish!
    Chowringhee Pritam Pura

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