Vegetarian French Onion Soup

This vegetarian French onion soup is the ultimate comfort food! It’s got the rich flavor of the classic, topped with a golden crust of cheese. There’s just something about silky caramelized onions topped golden, crusty cheese that takes your breath away every time. This is classic French cooking at its finest. It’s not just the flavor. It’s the promise that while the outside world is cold and brutal, every spoonful of French onion soup is pure bliss. This vegetarian French onion soup is our spin on the classic: it’s so full of rich, nuanced flavor you won’t miss the traditional beef broth. It’s a bit of a project: but it’s worth every moment of the prep. Promise! How to make French onion soup: an overview French onion soup has a long history; onion soups go back as far as the Roman times. But the modern version of French onion soup comes from Paris in the 1700’s. It was introduced in the US in the 1860’s in a New York restaurant, and it’s been popular ever since. You’ll need about 1 1/2 hours to make this vegetarian French onion soup. But it is 100% worth the effort, and you can make […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This vegetarian French onion soup is the ultimate comfort food! It’s got the rich flavor of the classic, topped with a golden crust of cheese.

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

There’s just something about silky caramelized onions topped golden, crusty cheese that takes your breath away every time. This is classic French cooking at its finest. It’s not just the flavor. It’s the promise that while the outside world is cold and brutal, every spoonful of French onion soup is pure bliss. This vegetarian French onion soup is our spin on the classic: it’s so full of rich, nuanced flavor you won’t miss the traditional beef broth. It’s a bit of a project: but it’s worth every moment of the prep. Promise!

How to make French onion soup: an overview

French onion soup has a long history; onion soups go back as far as the Roman times. But the modern version of French onion soup comes from Paris in the 1700’s. It was introduced in the US in the 1860’s in a New York restaurant, and it’s been popular ever since.

You’ll need about 1 1/2 hours to make this vegetarian French onion soup. But it is 100% worth the effort, and you can make a few components in advance as time savers. Make it on a cozy day when you have time to prep, or do the advanced prep if you’re serving for a dinner party.

Caramelize the onions1 hour
Make the vegetarian broth30 minutes (while cooking onions)
Make the soup20 minutes
Vegetarian French onion soup

The key to vegetarian French onion soup: homemade broth

Here’s one important thing to note. Vegetable broths and stocks vary widely in flavor and quality. Try it in a French onion soup, and most purchased veggie broth comes out sweet: not savory like you’d expect! Trust us, we tested a few times and it did not taste right.

Here’s what you’ll have to do: make a homemade vegetable broth! It might sound like overkill, but it makes for just the right flavor. When Alex and I tried it with this homemade broth, we were amazed by the flavor. Don’t skip this step!

Of course, if you want a classic French onion soup: just use beef broth! You can make the same recipe without that step and of course, it tastes great too.

Caramelizing onions: a few tips

The main time-consuming step for vegetarian French onion soup is caramelizing the onions! Sure, you can saute onions in about 10 minutes. But to get them fully dark brown and caramelized takes about 1 hour. Here are the basic steps, and a graphic that shows the color of the onions each phase!

  • Thinly slice the onions.
  • Sauté the onions in butter for 10 minutes on medium high.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low, add salt and saute for 40 to 45 minutes until deep brown and very soft.
How to caramelize onions

Dry sherry brings big flavor (or use white wine)

This vegetarian French onion soup uses dry sherry to bring in complexity and intrigue into the flavor. What is it, and what’s a substitute?

  • Sherry is a fortified wine made in Spain that’s made by adding grape liquor to white wine. The flavor is sharp, with a scent of apple cider and a very dry finish. It’s worth finding for this recipe if you don’t have it already.
  • How long does sherry last? An opened bottle of sherry lasts in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 months.
  • What’s a substitute for sherry? Don’t’ have it? You can use a dry white wine instead (make sure it’s not a sweet wine).

The crouton topping: broil or bake!

The last component to a great vegetarian French onion soup is the crouton topping! That is: it’s topped bread and cheese, broiled to golden perfection. There are a few techniques to achieve this, but I love the one that Alex devised using both Swiss cheese and grated Parmesan. Here’s what to do:

  • Place the soup into small oven-safe bowls or ramekins. This is key! Make sure you have some small serving bowls: typically this soup is not served in large vessels.
  • Add 1/2 inch slices of bread, then Swiss or Gruyere and grated Parmesan cheese. The two cheese really makes the perfect melting. Remember: grated Parm is the kind that looks like snow (don’t use shredded).
  • Broil for 2 minutes or bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees. The broiling method here is much easier and quicker: we prefer it! But if you don’t have a broiler, go the oven route.
How to make French onion soup

Make ahead tips for vegetarian French onion soup

Last tip before we get to this (very tasty) recipe: here’s how to speed it up! You can make both of the main components in advance:

  • Caramelize the onions in advance. This makes the prep time take next to nothing! Caramelize the onions, then refrigerate until serving. Bring to warm before you pick up in the soup recipe.
  • Make the homemade broth in advance. Same idea! You can refrigerate until serving, then warm it up and pick right back up in the recipe.

What to serve with French onion soup

Here’s a final important thing to note about French onion soup: it’s not intended as a full meal. It’s generally served as an appetizer to an elegant meal, or as a lunch. How to make it into a light meal? Here’s what to add:

Vegetarian French onion soup recipe

This vegetarian French onion soup is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free bread.

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Vegetarian French Onion Soup

Vegetarian French Onion Soup


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This vegetarian French onion soup is the ultimate comfort food! It’s got the rich flavor of the classic, topped with a golden crust of cheese.


Ingredients

For the caramelized onions

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 pounds yellow onions (5 medium)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry (or white wine)
  • 1 tablespoon flour

For the soup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (purchased or use this substitute)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 6 slices Swiss or Gruyere cheese (or shredded)
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 large or 12 small slices bread, sliced about 1/2” thick

Instructions

  1. Caramelize the onions: Thinly slice the onions about 1/8-inch thick. In a soup pot, heat the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until very soft and just starting to brown on the bottom. Reduce to medium-low heat and stir in the kosher salt. Cook for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes and adjusting the heat so they continue to cook slowly without burning. The mushrooms will change from raw to golden to light brown to very dark brown, and reduce in volume by about 1/4. (Make ahead tip: Make the caramelized onions in advance and refrigerate until ready to make the soup. Reheat in a pan and go to step 3.)
  2. Meanwhile, make the homemade broth: Slice the mushrooms. Wash and cut the carrot in half length-wise, then into large chunks. Cut the celery into large pieces. Smash and peel the garlic. In a second pot, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add 8 cups water, kosher salt, and vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. (Make ahead: Make the broth in advance and refrigerate until serving. Then warm before proceeding to Step 3.)
  3. Simmer the soup: When onions are very reduced and dark brown, stir in the sherry and deglaze the pan by scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the flour and stir until the onions are coated. Strain the homemade broth into the onions (discarding the vegetables). Add 1 cup water and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Broil the topping: Place the soup into 6 oven-safe small bowls or ramekins. Preheat a broiler to high or an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Top with bread slices (about 1/2-inch thick), 1 slice Swiss or Gruyere cheese, and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan per bowl. Broil 1 to 3 minutes (or bake for 20 minutes) until the cheese is melted and browned. Place on a plate and serve immediately, taking care since the bowls are very hot. 
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: French

Keywords: Vegetarian French onion soup, French onion soup, How to make French onion soup

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Vegan Chai Latte

Here’s how to make a vegan chai latte as good as a coffee shop! There’s a secret to getting the perfect foam topping with dairy free milk. A great chai latte doesn’t need dairy milk. Meet the perfect Vegan Chai Latte! It’s warm and cozy spiced, lightly creamy with a fluffy foam topping. And honestly, that’s a feat! Dairy free milks can act more like water than milk. So this vegan latte: it’s a revelation! It’s just sweet enough with the perfect intrigue from the chai spices. It’s much lighter than a typical latte, so you don’t feel like you just ate a bowl of ice cream. Here’s the trick you need to know to make a vegan chai latte! How to make a vegan chai latte: the secret! So what’s a chai latte, anyway? The chai latte is a cultural fusion: it combines traditional masala chai, a milky spiced tea from India, with frothy steamed milk of a latte. This started to become popular with second wave coffee shops in the 1990s (read: Starbucks). Most coffee shop versions of chai have little left of the traditional Indian tea, making it too sweet with too many spices. This vegan chai […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s how to make a vegan chai latte as good as a coffee shop! There’s a secret to getting the perfect foam topping with dairy free milk.

Chai latte

A great chai latte doesn’t need dairy milk. Meet the perfect Vegan Chai Latte! It’s warm and cozy spiced, lightly creamy with a fluffy foam topping. And honestly, that’s a feat! Dairy free milks can act more like water than milk. So this vegan latte: it’s a revelation! It’s just sweet enough with the perfect intrigue from the chai spices. It’s much lighter than a typical latte, so you don’t feel like you just ate a bowl of ice cream. Here’s the trick you need to know to make a vegan chai latte!

How to make a vegan chai latte: the secret!

So what’s a chai latte, anyway? The chai latte is a cultural fusion: it combines traditional masala chai, a milky spiced tea from India, with frothy steamed milk of a latte. This started to become popular with second wave coffee shops in the 1990s (read: Starbucks). Most coffee shop versions of chai have little left of the traditional Indian tea, making it too sweet with too many spices.

This vegan chai latte is just sweet enough, and gently spiced with a blend of chai spices. Even better, you can get that beautifully frothy top! Most vegan chai latte recipes simply add coconut whipped cream to the top as a faux foam. But this recipe actually works! The secret? Oat milk.

Foam on vegan chai latte

What’s the best milk for a vegan latte?

We’ve done the research so you don’t have to! What’s the best milk for a vegan latte? Regular oat milk. Here’s why:

  • Oat milk is the best milk for frothing. It’s creamy enough so that you’re able to foam it using the traditional methods. (Almond milk does not hold up.)
  • Oat milk has the best neutral flavor. It has a lightly sweet but neutral flavor that’s closer to dairy milk than other substitutes. Coconut milk and soy milk can work for a latte, but they have a stronger flavor.

Oat milk is becoming easier to find and a more popular dairy free milk. Make sure to buy unsweetened oat milk: it has the best flavor. Plus, we’ll be adding sweetner…

The sweetener for a vegan chai latte: maple syrup

This chai latte recipe is intentionally just sweet enough: it’s not a copycat Starbucks recipe that’s packed full of sugar! But don’t worry: it’s sweet enough that it tells your taste buds that it’s a chai latte! Here are a few notes on the sweetener to use for a chai latte:

  • The best: pure maple syrup. It has just the right caramel-flavored nuance (it doesn’t taste like maple, promise).
  • Alternate: agave syrup. If you have it on hand, agave also adds gentle sweetness.
  • Optional: simple syrup. Got some on hand for cocktails? It also works for lattes.
Chai spices

DIY chai spices blend

The word chai translates to “tea” in Hindi, so saying chai tea is technically like saying “tea tea.” The more correct term for the Indian tea blend is masala chai. The word masala refers to a blend of spices used in cooking. Just like the word curry, a Westernized reduction of a complex blend of Indian spices, the word chai can oversimplify and appropriate a rich Indian cultural tradition.

Masala chai spices can include many different ingredients based on the cook, just like curry powder. This Homemade Chai Spice mix uses common chai spices, but note there are many more used regionally in Indian blends. Here’s what you’ll need for the chai spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Cardamom
  • Black pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Fennel seed

Traditionally, whole spices are simmered with water and tea to make make masala chai: like whole cinnamon sticks and cloves. This chai spice blend is a shortcut by using ground spices that you might already have in your pantry. It makes the process quicker and easier, and also lets you use the leftover spice blend for baked goods like cookies and muffins.

Vegan chai latte

How to froth milk for a vegan chai latte

Here’s the thing: frothing milk for a vegan chai latter is a little different than with dairy milk. The main difference? You can over-froth the oat milk. That’s right: if you froth too much, it will deflate. Keep in mind that the foam is not quite as creamy as you get with 2% or dairy milk, because there’s less milk fat. Here’s what to know about how to froth non dairy milk:

  • Heat the milk to 150 degrees (scalding). The temperature is important for the perfect frothy foam. Use a candy thermometer if you have one. Or, eyeball it: 150 degrees is hot to the touch with some small bubbles starting to form on the outside, but it’s not yet simmering.
  • Use a French press, hand frother, or whisk. We used our French press and it worked great. You can also use a hand frother. If you don’t have any fancy gadgets, you can vigorously whisk the milk.
  • Do not overwhip! Here’s the important part: don’t go too far! With our French press we needed only 25 pumps (compared to 100 pumps for 2% milk). Pump or froth just until you see it becoming fluffy. If you go past that point, the froth will deflate.

Want a regular latte with dairy milk? We got that too. Go to Perfect Chai Latte.

Dairy free chai latte

Serving your vegan chai latte

And that’s it! Make your masala chai (see below), then mix in that frothed milk. You’ve got a beautiful vegan chai latte with actual foam, thanks to the oat milk! No need to make extra vegan whipped cream. We like to add a sprinkle of chai spices on top as a finishing touch.

*Want to make vegan chai lattes to order throughout the week? Make a big batch of the spiced tea and refrigerate. When you’re craving a latte, warm up 3/4 cup of the tea, then froth the 1/2 cup milk.

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based and dairy-free.

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Chai latte

Perfect Vegan Chai Latte


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 large or 2 small lates
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make a vegan chai latte as good as a coffee shop! There’s a secret to getting the perfect foam topping with dairy free milk.


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon Homemade Chai Spices
  • 1 1/2 cups regular oat milk (unflavored)
  • 1 bag black tea (or 1 teaspoon loose leaf black tea in a tea strainer)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (or simple syrup)

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, whisk together chai spices, 1 cup of oat milk and the tea bag and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove it from the heat and allow it to rest for 1 minute. Then strain through a fine mesh strainer* into one or two mugs (one for a large latte and two for small).
  2. Rinse the saucepan. Add the remaining 1/2 cup milk and maple syrup. Heat the milk to 150 degrees Fahrenheit (measure using a thermometer): this is hot with some small bubbles forming around the outside, but not simmering. The exact temperature is helpful for getting the perfect foam (if you don’t have a thermometer you can approximate).
  3. Use hand frother, whisk, or french press to foam the milk. The french press is our favorite method: Add the scalding milk to the french press and pump vigorously until frothy, about 25 times. Do not overwhip, as the foam will deflate!
  4. Pour the milk and foam evenly between the mugs (or into 1 mug). Sprinkle with additional chai spices and serve.

Notes

*You can skip straining if desired: the spices will settle to the bottom of the drink.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Vegan chai latte, how to make a vegan chai latte

More cozy drinks

Here are a few more vegan drinks that are perfect for cool weather! Make sure to try:

  • Vegan Hot Chocolate There’s no need for a packaged mix if you’re craving hot cocoa! This homemade vegan hot chocolate is easy, refined sugar free, and tastes incredible.
  • Mulled Cider Infused with spices like cinnamon and cloves, you can make it in a slow cooker or on the stove.
  • Pumpkin Spice Iced Coffee This vegan pumpkin spiced coffee is perfect for when cozy pumpkin season starts.

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes