I absolutely love recreating recipes that I have in restaurants, with my own spin. This vegetarian French Onion Soup is a prefect example. Traditional French Onion Soup is made with a hearty beef broth, and while sometimes I will sway from my vegetarianism and eat something like that (as long as it doesn't have actual meat in in), when I am cooking at home, I want to be 100% vegetarian where possible. Vegetable broth simmered with herbs and spices creates a soup base so flavorful, you won't even miss the beef. And since I am a firm believer that putting exorbitant amounts of cheese on something makes it delicious, this soup is perfect. The traditional version of the soup calls for baguette croutons and Gruyere cheese, however, I made my own play on this (I'm a bit of a cooking rebel) and mixed up the ingredients to take advantage of local or less expensive options.
Three yellow or white onions, halved and sliced thin One carton of vegetable broth One bagel, diced into crouton sized pieces (I used an Asiago bagel that I purchased at the bagel shop in the Pike Place Market) 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese (I used Dubliner Cheddar for a twist) 1 stick of butter A few Parmesan rinds, to flavor the broth Two cloves of fresh garlic One tablespoon of olive oil Two tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan cheese A handful of fresh basil, chopped Salt Pepper And any other herbs or spices you want to add (I also added a little paprika, roasted granulated garlic, and oregano)
In a large pot, heat the butter on low heat. While the butter heats, slice the onions and press the garlic. When the butter is melted, add the onions and garlic. Saute the onions at a medium to low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and lightly browned. This produces the sweet caramelization distinctive to French Onion soups. While the onions cook, add the carton of vegetable broth, three cups of water, the fresh basil, the Parmesan rinds, and all the spices into another pot, and heat to boiling. Lower the heat and allow the broth to simmer. Cut the bagel into crouton size pieces, drizzle with olive oil, and mix in two tablespoons of the grated Parmesan. Dust with salt, pepper, and dried oregano and basil, and put in the oven under broil. Watch these carefully; they crisp up fast! Once the onions are caramelized, carefully ladle the broth mixture into the onion pot. Allow to simmer another ten minutes. Remove the Parmesan rinds from the soup and discard. Ladle the soup into oven safe bowls, add in a few croutons, and top with your grated cheese. Put into the oven on broil for a few minutes, until the cheese on top is well melted and browned. Serve hot from the oven, and enjoy!