Savory Richness Sans Beef: Vegan Onion Soup

You can make a delicious, rich tasting onion soup without using beef broth. To give the soup  savory depth, take a tip from chef John Schenk: use miso. Why does this work? Because miso is rich in umami, the taste sensation of savoriness. Soup mixes sometimes add savoriness through MSG, but miso is a healthful alternative.

Wines and other alcoholic beverages have umami and can release umami flavor in other ingredients. In order to further add some umami oomph to my onion soup, I added a bit of port, but I think sherry or red wine would have done as well.

The Kosher Connection, an informal group of creative kosher food bloggers from all around the world, proudly present the first kosher recipe challenge.  Each month we will present you with recipes on a different theme from all the kosher food bloggers.

This month is root vegetables!  Follow our recipes on Twitter with #KosherRecipes.

(Is the onion a true root vegetable? Well, yes and no. It counts as a root vegetable, although technically it is a bulb.)

Vegan Onion Soup
Freely adapted from John Schenk’s recipe in Elaine Louie’s column in the NYT. I added the port and the pinch of curry powder, eliminated the cheese, plus changed around a few other things, like the method of preparation.
2 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced (2 lbs.)
1/4 cup olive oil, or enough to coat bottom of dutch oven with 1/8″ of oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 Tbl. miso
1/4 cup port or sherry (or some kind of dry wine)
4 cups water
pinch curry powder, optional
1/4 tsp. thyme, optional

Saute the onion in the oil, over low heat, for a really long, long time (make this soup when you will be home for at least an hour). Leave the pot covered at the beginning and give everything a stir every now and then. When the onions give off lots and lots of liquid, you can take off the cover. Give the onions a stir occasionally. They should gradually get yellow, then golden, then a rich brown.

When the onions are brown or at least brown-ish, add the salt, pepper and the port and boil off the alcohol.

Add the miso and water and cook the whole thing at a low simmer for a few minutes (or you can leave it on low for much longer if need be). Add the thyme and pinch of curry if you like. You might need to add more water if you find the soup a bit salty (or you might want to boil it down a bit to make the flavor richer). I served this with garlic croutons, but you could serve it with toast and melted cheese (see original recipe).

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9 Responses to “Savory Richness Sans Beef: Vegan Onion Soup”

  1. Tali Simon Says:

    I love miso — what a great idea to add it to this soup. (I’d have to put the cheese back in, though. Can’it imagine onion soup without it.)

  2. Yosef - This American Bite Says:

    I like the use of miso here. I use marmite in my onion soup to keep it vegan yet beefy.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Oh, Marmite, what a great idea. I had been wondering if anyone used that instead of miso. I wish I knew where to get kosher Marmite. And I like the sweet potato in your onion soup.

  3. Alison @ Alibabka Says:

    I love when I see miso soup incorporated into anything! miso gives off that unique and delicious umame flavor. I made one similar a little bit ago. This looks great!

  4. couldntbeparve Says:

    This sounds so delicious. The addition of miso is brillant. I usually add soy and a touch of balsamic to my onion soup but I bet the miso would make it even better.

  5. Melissa {lilmisscakes} Says:

    I love onion soup, I’ve never made it with miso, what a great tip!

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