French Onion Soup with Vegetable Stock. Voilà

A big bag of onions hiding in a cold larder is a call to soup, especially a comforting one such as Soup a´l’Oignon. French onion soup became popular in the 1960s and although it may seem retro to some, I have never stopped making this classic soup. Every winter I tweak the stock and have now settled on a flavoursome brown vegetarian stock, a good substitute for the beef stock used in the original. The key to a rich dark stock is to roast the vegetables first.

Brown Vegetable Stock.

Chop all the following vegetables into small chunks. Don’t peel the onions and the garlic.

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive oil.
  • 2- 3 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 3 onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • one medium-sized potato
  • 5 or more large dark fleshed mushrooms.
  • one tomato
  • two bay leaves
  • some parsley stems
  • other herbs from the garden
  • half a fennel bulb (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce.

Toss the chopped vegetables and toss them in the oil. Don’t add the soy sauce yet. Bake in preheated oven to 180°c for 30 minutes or so, occasionally moving and tossing the vegetables around. When ready, remove them and place in a large stock pot, covering well with water, around 3 litres.  Add the soy sauce. Bring to the bowl, reduce heat to low and cook for approx one hour. Strain into a bowl, pressing hard on the vegetables with the back of a large spoon to extract more flavour.

You will need only 1.8 litres of stock for the onion soup so freeze the rest.

Soupe a l’Oignon- for 6 servings.

  • 45 gr butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive oil
  • 700 gr onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1.8 litres boiling stock
  • 150 ml dry white wine
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brandy ( optional but very nice)

For the croûte topping

  • rounds of French or Italian crusty bread, toasted or baked
  • 120 gr or enough Swiss cheese to cover, cut into fine slices
  • grated parmesan cheese

In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter, add the oil and cook the onions slowly for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions need to colour a little but not brown. When done, sprinkle in the salt and flour.

Stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes, remove from the heat and add the boiling stock. Add the wine. Season to taste. Simmer for 40 minutes.

Correct seasoning. Just before serving, stir in brandy. Pour the soup over grilled bread and serve the cheese separately OR, after grilling or baking the bread, cover with the cheese, pop under a griller to melt, the place these in the base of each serving bowl, the cover with the hot soup. The toasts should rise to the top.

The next day, just as good.
The next day, just as good.

This recipe came from my old Margaret Fulton Book, re-purchased in Savers for 99 cents. I have adjusted the original imperial measurements to metric, changed the stock to vegetarian, and abbreviated the making of the bread and cheese topping.

Margaret Fulton inspired many home cooks during the late 1960s and continues to do so today, with her simple but precise versions of classic recipes. At the time, many of the recipes seemed quite sophisticated. I still often refer to her version of Crème Caramel, Mushroom Soup and her cake recipes. Thanks Leah, for including one of our leading lights of Australian Cookery in your series, The Cookbook Guru.