I think vegan meals fall into two categories: the ones that blow people’s minds because they taste a bajillion times better than they’d expected, and the ones that blow people’s minds because they never thought one of their favorite dishes could be made using only plants and still taste just as good as, if not better than, the original. This recipe falls into the latter category. The original version tends to be overly greasy, and that oil coats your mouth, preventing you from experiencing the full flavor of every bite. This French onion soup, with its caramelized onion base, French bread, and melted cheese all over the top, has none of that. No greasiness plus maximum flavor makes for a very impressed family.
Serves 6 // Prep Time: 30 Minutes (not including time to make Smoky Gouda Cheese Sauce) // Active Time: 60 Minutes
- 4 tablespoons (55 g) vegan butter (soy-free if necessary)
- 6 medium yellow onions, halved and very thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup (240 ml) vegan dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons oat flour (certified gluten-free if necessary)
- 2 quarts (2 L) low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, optional
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 vegan baguette, sliced (gluten-free if necessary)
- Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce, “Melty” Variation (page 27; see Tip)
- Chopped fresh parsley, optional
- Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every so often, until browned and caramelized. Add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaves and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed. Add the oat flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour is no longer visible, about 2 minutes.
- Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until thickened. Add the nutritional yeast (if using), salt, and pepper. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves.
- Preheat the oven broiler. Arrange six small ovenproof bowls or ramekins on a baking sheet. Pour the soup into the bowls. Place 1 or 2 baguette slices on top of the soup. Spoon the cheese sauce over the bread. Place the baking sheet with the bowls under the broiler. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with parsley (if using). Serve immediately. Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Heating the cheese sauce will take 5 to 7 minutes, so I suggest preparing it while the soup is simmering.
smoked gouda cheese sauce
- ½ cup (75 g) raw cashews, soaked in warm water for at least 1 hour and drained, water reserved
- 5 to 6 tablespoons reserved soaking water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon white soy miso (or chickpea miso)
Combine the cashews, ¼ cup (60 ml) of the reserved soaking water, the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and miso in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add up to 2/3 cup (160 ml) water. Add 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Transfer the cheese to a small pot and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes, until it’s thickened but still drips slowly off a spoon. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
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