Main Dishes

eighty nine

Vegan French Onion Soup with Not-At-All-Vegan Gruyere Crostini

In my time spent in the kitchen, there have been many times where I’ll cook something vegan and then top it with something not-at-all vegan (Exhibit A) this is also very easily achieved in the soup department. I recently came across a truly rad article called “What the Tipsy Peasant Knew”, (you’re already hooked because the title is so great. Go ahead and read it, then come back here) and I knew I had to make the soup discussed. I LOVE French Onion Soup. It’s always filling and flavorful, but not at all heavy or filled with butter, like most French things. For this recipe, essentially you make an rich onion stock out of caramelized onions and water instead of using chicken or beef stock. I’d never made it before, but this recipe held up to any version I’ve ever had in a restaurant, which really was no surprise because it was created by Jacques Pépin, who is a genius. I knew I had to share this recipe, even though I did nothing to the recipe except retype it from The New York Times.

Soup (from The New York Times)

– Olive oil

– 3 pounds red onions, peeled, sliced 1/8-inch thick

– Salt and pepper

– 1 cup dry red wine

– 2 bay leaves

– 1 small bunch thyme, tied with string

– 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

– 2 tablespoons brandy (optional)

Set 2 large, wide skillets over medium-high heat. When pans are hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and a large handful of sliced onions to each pan. Season onions with salt and pepper, then sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are a ruddy dark brown, about 10 minutes Transfer onions to soup pot and return pans to stove. Pour 1/2 cup water into each pan to deglaze it, scraping with a wooden spoon to dissolve any brown bits. Pour deglazing liquid into soup pot. Wipe pans clean with paper towel and begin again with more oil and sliced onions. Continue until all onions are used. Don’t crowd pans or onions won’t brown sufficiently.

Place soup pot over high heat. Add wine, bay leaves, thyme bunch and garlic. Simmer rapidly for 5 minutes, then add 8 cups water and return to boil. Turn heat down to maintain a gentle simmer. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Cook for 45 minutes. Skim off any surface fat, taste and adjust seasoning. (May be prepared to this point up to 2 days in advance.) To serve, add brandy to soup, if using, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove the thyme.

Toasts

– 6 slices day-old baguette, lightly toasted

– 6 oz grated Gruyère

– 1 tsp. chopped thyme

– 1 tbsp chopped sage

Heat broiler. Place toasted bread on baking sheet. Mix grated cheese with chopped thyme and sage, along with a generous amount of pepper. Heap about 1 ounce of cheese mixture on each toast. Broil until cheese bubbles and browns slightly. Ladle soup into wide bowls and top with toast.

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