Caramelized Onion Soup

Caramelized onion soup

Onion soup calls to me as the temperatures drop. I like this interpretation that uses a smoky mushroom stock and a vegetable stock as opposed to a beef or chicken based stock. With only a few simple ingredients, you can make this soup for dinner tonight.

To make the mushroom stock, I soaked dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water for about thirty minutes. Then I removed the mushrooms  and poured the remaining water through a fine mesh sieve. The remaining soaking water has a meaty smoky flavor that gives the soup a savory umami taste.

I used a combination of a vegetable broth and the mushroom broth to create this vegan friendly soup.

The key to a deep rich onion soup lies not only in the stock. Just as important is how you cook the onions. The sweet sliced onions are sautéed in olive oil in a heavy Dutch oven over a very low heat. Garlic is added for a little zest. The onions are cooked until lightly caramelized.

A tablespoon of tomato sauce, a little rice vinegar, some white wine and a few bay leaves further enrich the soup as it simmers. Do not rush the simmering process. It is necessary to cook slowly and allow the flavors to combine in the pot as well as allow the aromas to waft through your kitchen.

If you wish to add the hydrated shiitakes at the end of the simmering process, feel free to do so. Chop them roughly and add them to the onion soup to simmer and meld with the other vegetables.

If you are having visions of a traditional french onion soup, you can place a toasted croute on top of the cooked soup and perhaps some cheese. Traditionally the slice of french bread is brushed with oil and toasted and gruyere cheese is placed on top of the croute and melted in the oven. You can substitute swiss cheese or any cheese, a vegan cheese if you like, that will melt well. Bon appetit and stay warm!

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