Welcome to the inaugural post on Kitchen Treaty! My aim is to show that vegetarians and meat-eaters can live together – and happily, too. Over the years, I’ve developed an arsenal of easy recipes that please meat-eaters and veggies alike. I’m looking forward to sharing them here!
French Onion Soup. My first “gotcha” dish when I became a vegetarian some 12 years ago. It’s onion soup! A veggie! No meat! Silly me. Traditional french onion soup is made with beef broth. This one isn’t (unless you add some to the meat side), but you don’t miss it.
Instead, after cooking a huge amount of onions down into wonderful brown caramelized goodness, you add rich vegetable stock and, of course, a few other ingredients. Simmer for a good long while, then take some of the good stuff and add it to a new pot. This is where you’ll add the meatballs for yourself or your loving (and appreciative) carnivore.
French Onion Soup with Meatballs (or Not)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 - 5 large yellow onions (sliced (about 7 cups))
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 cloves garlic (minced (about 1 heaping teaspoon))
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 8 cups vegetable broth (no or low salt preferred)
- 1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons salt (use less if your broth is full-fat plus more to taste)
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 4-6 1- inch thick slices French bread
- Butter for bread
- 1 1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
- 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Add if you're making the meat half:
- 2 cups beef or vegetable broth
- 1/2 pound ground beef (90% lean works great)
- 1/4 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 clove garlic (minced (about 1/2 teaspoon))
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Couple turns fresh ground black pepper
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add the onions and cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very soft, medium brown and caramelized. Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the cooking to help the onions cook down.
- Stir in the garlic and dried thyme. Cook for about two minutes.
- Stir in the flour. Cook for another minute or so.
- Add the vegetable broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about an hour. Continue to simmer over low heat while preparing the meaty half of the soup. Skip to step 8 if you're not making the meaty half.
- Meanwhile, make the meatballs. In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix together the ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper until all ingredients are well-incorporated. Scoop out tablespoonfuls, roll into balls, and set aside (I place them on a sheet of wax paper).
- After the soup has cooked for an hour, into another large saucepan over medium heat, transfer two cups of the soup plus another 1/2 cup or so of the onions with a slotted spoon. Add the two additional cups of broth (either beef or more veggie). Bring to a boil then turn to a simmer.
- Carefully drop in the meatballs into the meaty soup and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes until cooked through.
- Butter the French bread on both sides and place on a cookie sheet. Broil on high heat until golden brown; turn over and brown the other side. Remove from the oven, but keep the broiler on.
- Ladle the vegetarian soup into three oven-proof bowls, and ladle the meaty soup into three bowls as well. Reserve three meatballs to place on top of the soups with meat. Place one piece of French bread on top of each bowl of soup, then sprinkle each with 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Gruyere. Cut the meatballs in half, and place two halves on each bowl of meaty soup.
- Carefully place the bowls on a cookie sheet and broil on high until the cheese is melted and bubbly, then serve.