It’s Meatless Monday again! And the star of the show is a vegetarian version of French onion soup – made in the crock pot! Ok, I actually made this for Sunday night, but there are so many leftovers, and the soup is just so delicious, that I’m eating it for lunch again today. Besides, it was sleeting and raining ice yesterday. There was nothing better than a warming soup whose pleasant aroma wafted throughout the house all afternoon. My roommates adored the smell, but it was agonizing to wait for it to finish! Worth it, though, because the end result is delicious.
Traditionally French onion soup is made with beef broth, which is not at all vegetarian. In the spirit of Meatless Monday, and because I don’t keep beef broth in our pantry, I went into kitchen improv mode, and created a vegetarian-friendly beef broth substitute. The soup is also a healthified one! The only source of fat is from the cheese that’s melted on top just before serving. And if you buy good, quality cheese, that still counts as being part of a healthy diet 🙂 At least it does in Wisconsin! You can’t go wrong with cheese here.
I based my concoction off a recipe created by Dashing Dish, but put my own vegetarian flare on it. I replaced the traditional beef stock with a homemade (aka make-shift) flavorful vegetarian stock, and included the traditional use of toasted bread or baguette slices as well.
Vegetarian Crock Pot French Onion Soup
Makes 8 servings – low fat, low sodium, low sugar. High in flavor and protein.
- 3 yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and chopped
- 2 packets Stevia, or other natural non-sugar sweetener
- 1 package dried onion soup mix (if you can get low-sodium, that’s even better!)
- 1/2 C red wine – I happened to have an open bottle of sweet red, but whatever you have should work
- 7.5 C water
- Couple dashes of low-sodium soy sauce – I didn’t measure, but I’d guess it was close to 1/4-1/3 C that I used
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- A few grinds of freshly cracked salt & pepper
- 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- Thin slices of Gruyere cheese, or other flavorful white cheese (I used Gouda)
- Optional: toasted French bread
Combine, in a large bowl, the Stevia, onion soup mix, red wine, water and soy sauce. Give it a stir.
In a non-stick pan, add onions, garlic, and one cup of the broth mixture. Saute onions until the broth has completely evaporated, and onions begin to caramelize. This replaces the butter that would otherwise be used in sauteing, without reducing the flavor profile of the soup.
Spray crock pot with PAM (or don’t, but I swear this makes cleaning it MUCH easier), and pour in the rest of the broth mixture, the sauteed onions, and the thyme, vinegar and salt & pepper. Stir it all up and cover with lid. Turn on “high” and let it cook for 4 hours (or, if you want to prepare this in the morning for dinner that night, set it on “low” for 8 hours).
Once ready to serve, preheat oven to your highest setting, or turn on the broiler. Ladle soup into oven/broiler-safe bowls, and top with cheese. If using the toast, place that on soup, and cheese on top of toast. Place in oven for 2-3 minutes, allowing the cheese to melt. It helps to put the bowls on a baking sheet, for ease of transportation. You can also throw this into the microwave to melt the cheese, especially useful if you’re taking it to work as leftovers.
Enjoy hot, and be glad you’re inside curled up on the couch with blankets, rather than out in the freezing temps and icy storms! Have a happy Meatless Monday!