Autumn, Winter, Light Meals, Soup

French Onion Soup

I adore soup, partly because it's generally very easy to whip up, and so versatile. Relatively, French onion soup involves a little extra effort – or maybe just patience – but it's well worth the wait. Slow and steady wins the race here, and your reward is bags of flavour.

I tried out a different method for this recipe, known as 'scorching', which involves allowing the onions to caramalise (not burn) without stirring, then deglazing the pan with white wine.

Repeating this several times achieves the intense, rich, onion flavour and classic dark-amber broth that you'd only usually see in beef stock.

This is delicious with or without the cheesy toast that adorns it, but if you decide to include it, feel free to use your favourite vegan cheese – if you're vegetarian, I recommend gruyere as your cheese of choice.

Generous 4


6 large onions, peeled and sliced

2 heaped tbsp vegan butter

250ml vegan cream – I use oat

2 bay leaves

1 tsp sea salt

450ml white wine

1 tbsp sherry (optional)

1.5-2l vegetable stock

4 thick slices of bread – sourdough is perfect here.

200g cheese of choice, grated

Small bunch fresh chives, finely chopped


  1. Add the onions to a large pan with the butter, cream, bay leaves and sea salt. Cook on a medium heat, stirring often, until the onions have softened and cream has reduced a little – this should take about 20 mins.
  2. Pour the wine into a measuring jug and add the sherry, if using. Turn the heat under the pan up a little, and allow the onions and cream to slow boil. Cook, without stirring, being careful not to let the onions burn. Within about 5 mins, the soup should have caramelised, and taken on a deep brown colour.
  3. Stir the onions, then add 250ml of wine to deglaze the pan. Let it bubble and evaporate, before repeating the process until you have no more wine left. The onions should be rich and dark in colour, and intensely flavourful.
  4. Add the stock and a grinding of black pepper, and allow to simmer gently for about 20 more mins. Taste for seasoning, adjusting if needed.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6, and toast the bread until lightly crisp on both sides.
  6. When the soup is ready, ladle it into 4 ovenproof bowls. Pop a slice of the toast on top – you might need to trim it to fit – and top with your cheese of choice and a sprinkling of chives.
  7. Place the bowls in the oven until the cheese is gooey and bubbling. Allow the soup to cool a little before tucking in.

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