This vegan french onion soup with homemade mozzarella is everything french onion soup should be: packed with caramelized onions, salty, savory, and topped with a thick crouton and generous mound of melted cheese.
The holidays tend to veil my thoughts with a reminiscent spirit. I find myself passing the drive to and from work thinking about the past, and sometimes my thoughts float all the way back to my early childhood and settle into memories that have faded with time.
While I was home for Thanksgiving, we made a point to drive by the house that I lived in until I was seven. This was the house my mom grew up in, and my parents purchased it from my grandparents not long after I was born. The family that bought the house from my parents still lives in it to this very day, and they’ve maintained the same landscaping, colors, and overall appearance that my parents had so many years ago.
As we drove past our old house, over memory lane, and crossed back onto the highway, we passed the spot where our favorite restaurant, Derby Street, used to dwell, and I thought about…
a. My mom’s love for rice pudding
b. How my little brother and I used to exit the booths at a restaurant by going underneath the table
c. French onion soup
d. All of the above
If you answered d, you’d be 100% correct. My thoughts aren’t always such an inattentive flurry of memories, but they certainly were that day. The gem within this reminiscent chaos is that the thought of Derby Street’s French Onion Soup triggered a chain reaction that became this…
Mmmhmm. That’s where it’s at.
When I told my mom about making a vegan version of French Onion Soup (let’s shorten that to FOS), she was encouragingly skeptical. That sounds so good, but how are you going to do it without beef broth? My mom has every right to ask this question because she’s made some epic FOS throughout the years. So, point well-taken and challenge accepted.
After some tinkering with seasonings, this vegan version of FOS came to be, and let me tell you: it’s damn delicious. I never swear on the blog, so you best believe this is the good stuff. Bring your worries, cares, and doubts to the dinner table, because this soup will allay them all.
Dan took one bite, let out a tricky-to-interpret groan, and declared that this was the best French Onion Soup he had ever tasted.
To make this soup, you’ll start by melting down a large dab of coconut oil in a dutch oven or oven-safe pot. Then, you’ll add in a mountain of sliced onions, cover the pot, and let them sweat for 30ish minutes. You’ll pop the entire pot into the oven (hence the need for one that’s oven-safe) and let the onions continue to cook and caramelize for 45 minutes to an hour.
Once your onions have reduced to about 1/4 of their original volume, you’ll return the pot to the stove, add in some dry white wine, and let that simmer off for a few minutes. Then, you’ll stir in water, low-sodium soy sauce or tamari, balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme sprigs, and sea salt. While it simmers, you’ll make a batch of this vegan mozzarella cheese. Once the soup is ready, you’ll ladle it into small crocks, top it with toasted baguette, dollop on some homemade vegan mozzarella, and broil until the cheese is golden and bubbly.
On that note, let’s slice our onions and shed tears of happiness.
Vegan French Onion Soup
For the Soup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari or to taste*
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 - 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
For the Vegan Mozzarella
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- thickly-sliced seeded or gluten-free baguette, toasted
- thyme sprigs
To Make the Soup
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Melt the coconut oil in a dutch oven or large oven-safe pot over medium heat. Add the sliced onions to the pot, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Transfer the pot to the oven and keep the lid slightly ajar. Bake the onions for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
- Carefully remove the pot from the oven and return it to the stove.
- Before turning on the heat, add in the white wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape at the bottom and sides of the pan to release all of the flavorful onion bits (that's the good stuff).
- Turn the heat on medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol.
- Add in the water, soy or tamari, balsamic vinegar, thyme sprigs, minced garlic, and sea salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer (partially covered) for 40-45 minutes.
To Make the Vegan Mozzarella
- While the soup simmers, make the mozzarella by adding the water, cashews, white wine vinegar, nutritional yeast, arrowroot powder, and sea salt to a high-powered blender** and blend on high for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is completely smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a medium sauce pan over medium heat, and whisk continuously for 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and stretchy.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and cool slightly.
To Finish the Soup
- Heat broiler to high.
- Once the soup has finished simmering, turn off heat, and carefully remove the thyme stems.
- Ladle the soup into little oven-safe crocks, top with 1-2 pieces of toasted baguette, place a large dollop of the vegan mozzarella on top (reheat the cheese if it has become too thick to easily dollop on top and spread), and place the crocks on a baking sheet.
- Place the pan in the oven and broil for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly, making sure to watch carefully to avoid burning.
- Remove from oven, place hot crocks on individual plates, top with a thyme sprig, and serve.
**If you don't have a high-powered blender, be sure to soak the cashews in hot water for 30-45 minutes before blending.