Many people don’t realize French Onion Soup isn’t vegetarian. It normally is made with beef stock but our Foodie Friday take on this classic hits the spot without the meat broth, so it’s fine for Lent.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News
Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

Vegetarian French Onion Soup (prep time about an hour.  Serves 6-8.) (You can also make the soup in a slow cooker. Just make the mushroom stock ahead since that boosts the “meaty” flavor)

2 Tb. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 huge yellow onion (about the size of a softball) or equivalent amount of small onions

1 large Portabella mushroom cap or 1 heaping cup of sliced baby Portabella mushrooms

2 C water

2 large cloves garlic, crushed and rough-chopped

2 tsp. thyme

2 tsp. rosemary (crush the ‘leaves’ between your fingers to break up so it’s not like getting pine needles in your soup)

1 quart vegetable stock

3 Tb. Soy sauce

Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

¼ inch slice of baguette or batard bread per serving

1 slice provolone cheese per serving

Start water to a boil and add mushroom. Reduce to a low simmer.  While the mushrooms boil, peel the onion and slice into ¼ inch half-rounds with a sharp knife or on a mandolin.  In a large stock pot or Dutch Oven, warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Stir in sliced onions to coat and reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally.  Cook the onions until opaque and just starting to turn golden. Do not allow to brown.  Stir in garlic, thyme, rosemary and a pinch of salt.  Continue to cook for another minute or two.  Strain the mushroom liquid* into the onions and add the vegetable stock. Turn up the heat and bring the soup to a low boil.  Add black pepper and soy sauce.  Taste and adjust the salt as needed.  Reduce heat and continue to simmer about 20 minutes.  Before serving, slice the bread into quarter-inch to half-inch slices, brush with olive oil and toast both sides under the broiler. Spoon the soup into oven-safe soup bowls or cups. Top with toasted bread and a slice of provolone cheese.  Slide the bowls under the broiler until the cheese is melted and starts to turn a little brown.  BE CAREFUL SERVING THE HOT BOWLS!!!

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News
Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

(*I used the boiled mushrooms strained out of the stock on top of a frozen lunch pizza or in a grilled sandwich with cheese and roasted red pepper.  The mushrooms really don’t have much flavor left after making the mushroom stock but I can’t stand to waste them.  You can make the soup without the mushrooms altogether with similar outcome but the mushroom stock adds another deeper, meaty-note to the broth.  By the same token, if you like mushrooms, just cut them into manageable pieces and leave them right in the soup!)

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