I love French onion soup with its meaty broth and gooey cheese, but this vegetarian version is a damn good hearty substitute. We’ve been having record low temperatures in Sydney over the last few weeks which have left me craving bubbling hot soups. I will never understand what Australians have against heat and insulation, but thank God for an arsenal of soup recipes.
My apologies to Rebar restaurant in Victoria, B.C. for posting yet another recipe from their cookbook here. For anyone trying to cook more vegetable-based food, it is an excellent addition to a cookbook library. You can check the book out here.
This soup is adapted slightly from the original, which used slow-roasted tomatoes. The original version is probably better, but I am bad at advanced planning when it comes to cooking, so for me it is a no go. Serve this soup ladled over cheese toast, or with fresh crusty bread.
Adapted from Rebar by Audrey Alsterburg and Wanda Urbanowicz
- 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 6 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 garlic bulb, minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
- 4 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 cup port wine
- Chopped fresh basil or parsley for garnish
- Heat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Place the cherry tomatoes on a baking tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until caramelised and brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. (In the original recipe the tomatoes were slow-roasted for 4 hours at 120°C (250°F), they taste great but require some pre-planning).
- Heat the stock while preparing the soup and keep warm on the back burner.
- Heat remaining olive oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Stir in onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and lightly golden. Add garlic, herbs, pepper, chile flakes and sugar and continue to cook until the onions are completely broken down. Deglaze the pan with port and let it reduce until thick and syrupy.
- Chop the roasted tomatoes coarsely. Add the tomatoes, remaining balsamic vinegar and stock to the soup pot and brig to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, to allow all of the flavours to come together. Season to taste with salt and pepper or more vinegar if necessary.
- Before serving, stir in fresh herbs and serve ladled over cheese toasts like traditional onion soup.