This Vegetarian French Onion Soup is a celebration of the onion. Instead of beef broth, which masks the onion, the slowly caramelized onions make their own sweet, deeply flavorful broth as they cook. Soup takes 2 1/2 - 5 hours to prepare, depending on how long the onions are caramelized. Most of the time is inactive, while the onions caramelize unattended.
2ozGruyère or sharp white cheddar cheese, freshly shredded (use more or less as desired)
diced green onion to garnish (optional)
In a large heavy bottom pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, salt, and bay leaves. Cover pot, and cook over medium-high for 4-5 minutes, until they begin to look translucent and start releasing water.
Remove lid, and cook onions over low (or medium-low) until they caramelize. This will take 2-5 hours, depending on the size of your pot and the temperature used. The onions can be left alone and checked on about once an hour, except at the beginning and end of the caramelizing process. (*Tip-- this can be done ahead of time, and the onions frozen until you're ready to use them.)
When onions have reduced and are an amber color, you're ready. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine. Allow the wine to boil down for 3-4 minutes.
Add 5 cups of hot water and the rosemary, and bring to a boil. Then, reduce to a simmer. Taste soup-- if you prefer a milder flavor, add another cup of hot water. If desired, add another splash of wine. Remove the bay leaves.
Turn on oven broiler.
If using oven-safe bowls:
Ladle soup into bowls, then set bread into soup. Pile desired amount of cheese over bread. Set bowls onto a baking tray, and set under broiler 1-2 minutes until cheese has melted and is golden. Garnish soup with fresh herbs (optional), and serve immediately.
If NOT using oven-safe bowls:
Lay bread cubes on baking sheet and top with cheese. Set in oven under broiler for 1-2 minutes, until cheese has melted and is golden. Ladle soup into bowls, and set cheese bread on soup. Garnish soup with fresh herbs (optional), and serve immediately.
Nutrition information assumes Gruyère and 2 slices of bread per serving.