I love French onion soup. Not the way I love tomato soup (for the nostalgia) or vegetable soup (because it’s healthy). French onion soup is just on a whole other level.
There’s just one problem: beef broth. The handful of recipes I’ve tried have all called for it, and back in my meat-eating days, I didn’t think twice about using it. I just kind of assumed that onion soup without beef broth wasn’t worth eating, so I hadn’t bothered to make a vegetarian version of it.
But a nagging craving got the best of me and I figured that even if it wasn’t worth eating, enough cheesy toast on top would at least make it tolerable, so I forged ahead with a new recipe which happens to call for beer instead of the wine I usually use. I can get behind that.
If you eat meat, I don’t see any reason to use vegetable broth… beef broth does give the characteristic flavor onion soup lovers crave. But if you’re vegetarian, don’t worry, this has everything you’re looking for, even without the beef broth. Win-win!
(adapted from McGuires Irish Pub Cook Book)
1/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
2 tsp salt, divided
a pinch or two of freshly ground black pepper
4 large onions, thinly sliced (I used a mix of red, white, and yellow)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable (or beef) broth
3 cups lager
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/8 tsp ground allspice
2 bay leaves
8 slices wheat bread
8 slices Swiss cheese
Toss the onion slices with the flour, 1 tsp of salt, and black pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven and add the onions. Cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft, about 40 minutes.
Stir in the broth, lager, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, allspice, bay leaves, and other tsp of salt. Simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes, removing the lid a few times to stir. Taste and adjust seasonings.
A few minutes before you’re ready to serve the soup, place the cheese slices on the bread and heat under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Ladle the soup out into bowls, then top with the bread and cheese to serve.