french onion soup with porcini

Your chances of finding a meat-free French onion soup at a restaurant are next to nil. It’s traditionally madeย with a beef (often veal) stock, which I’ll admit, is a nice match for those sweet onions. But there is a way to get just as flavourful a French onion soup without beef stock, using a common substitution.

Where there would be meat, use mushrooms.

A handful of dried porcini mushrooms steeped in hot water creates a full-flavoured broth that still lets the flavour of the onions shine through. So with that out of the way, the only thing to concern oneself with is making sure those onions get as concentrated, sweet and brown as possible. In other words, caramelize the hell out of them. This takes a long time (up to two hours,) but takes so little effort. It’s a matter of letting the onions sit in the pan over a low heat, and you walking by every 20 minutes to push them around. That’s it.

sliced onions

garlic added to caramelized onions

Your house will fill with the intoxicating aroma of onions caramelizing–reason enough to make this soup and we haven’t even gotten to the melty, cheese crouton yet.

Once the onions are done, you add some garlic, wine and water–plus the all-important porcini soaking liquid…

baguette and gruyere

…lay some toasted bread on a bowl of the soup, top with cheese and broil for a few minutes.

soup ready for the broiler

Aside from the delicious broth, sweet onions and cheese, you’ll love this soup for it’s super-warming magic properties. Eat a bowl on a dark, damp November evening and you’ll thaw from the bones out in minutes. Minutes. Perhaps it helps that you’re probably drinking a huge glass of the red wine you’re using in the soup too.

This story and the recipe that goes with it can be found in “SOUPS”, ISSUE 014 of Le Sauce Magazine! Get it here: