After cracking the code on oil-free caramelized onions, we found ourselves craving French Onion Soup!
So we got to work creating a 1-pot, plant-based version that doesn’t skimp on flavor. Spoiler alert? Major success! Let us show you how it’s done!
Origin of French Onion Soup
As the name suggests, French onion soup originated in France. Specifically, it’s believed that King Louis XV created it for a party when he was running low on ingredients (thank goodness for onions). Traditionally, this soup is made with a beef and onion base and topped with cheese and bread. The following is our plant-based take on the concept that doesn’t skimp on flavor or heartiness!
Vegan French Onion Soup
The flavorful base for this soup starts with caramelizing the onions in either oil, vegan butter, or water (if oil-free). This method of cooking onions low and slow maximizes their natural sweetness and creates tender texture. And adding a pinch of salt and pepper while cooking helps infuse them with even more flavor.
Next, we added garlic and mushrooms to deepen the flavors and add an umami component. Optionally, arrowroot starch or cornstarch can be added at this time to help the soup become a thicker consistency (but it’s not necessary).
For earthiness and some herbal notes, we added bay leaves and fresh thyme.
Instead of the traditional beef broth, we used vegetable broth to keep this vegan. It’s equally as good (if not better), but it’s important to choose a rich and flavorful broth, such as our DIY vegetable broth or Pacific Foods for a store-bought option. Coconut aminos and miso paste are the final layers of flavor that add even more umami and take this soup to the next level. Swoon!
The final (optional) step is to top the soup with croutons. Homemade croutons are incredibly easy to make (see recipe notes for instructions) and pair perfectly with this soup. We go for a nice sourdough for maximum flavor and texture.
Want in on a secret? We like saving the best bites for last: A little onion soup and the last few croutons that remain crisp in parts but are slightly soft in others from soaking in the broth. SO satisfying!
We hope you LOVE this vegan French onion soup! It’s:
Infused with caramelized onions
Quick & easy
& So delicious!
It makes a satisfying entrée when topped with homemade croutons. And it’s also perfect as an appetizer or side, especially paired with other French-inspired recipes such as our Vegan Nicoise Salad (30 minutes!) or Vegan Zucchini Gratin.
More Comforting Soup Recipes
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Creamy Asparagus and Pea Soup
- Warming Red Lentil Sweet Potato Soup (Instant Pot!)
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
1-Pot French Onion Soup (Vegan!)
- 2 Tbsp oil or vegan butter (or sub twice the amount in water, plus more as needed to prevent sticking)
- 2 medium yellow onions, peeled + sliced into slightly larger than 1/4-inch rounds
- 1 healthy pinch each salt and black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (adds depth of flavor and a bit of texture // okay to omit)
- 1 Tbsp arrowroot starch or cornstarch (optional // or all purpose flour if not gluten-free)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves, lightly chopped (or sub 3/4 tsp dried thyme)
- 4 cups vegetable broth (we prefer Pacific brand or DIY)
- 1 Tbsp coconut aminos (or sub half the amount with tamari as it’s saltier)
- 2 tsp miso paste (if soy-free, use chickpea miso // we like Miso Master brand)
FOR SERVING optional
- Croutons (gluten-free as needed // see notes for instructions)
- Heat a large pot, saucepan, or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, butter, or water and the sliced onions (they should be ~1/4 inch thick so the soup has nice texture). Stir and cover.
- Cook the onions over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until they start to very slightly brown. Then turn heat to low and cook for a total of ~30-40 minutes, opening the lid and stirring every 5 minutes. The name of the game with caramelizing onions is to cook slow and low. NOTE: If cooking without oil, be sure to cover the pot with lid after stirring — this helps them cook more evenly. And add 1 Tbsp water more at a time as needed to prevent sticking/ burning.
- How long you cook your onions depends on how deeply you want them caramelized. We found 30 minutes to produce a light golden brown color and sweet flavor, and 35-40 minutes to yield a deeper brown color and richer caramelized flavor. Be careful not to burn by keeping heat on low and adding a bit of water or broth as needed to prevent sticking.
- Add a healthy pinch of salt and pepper while sautéing, plus more to taste later as you season the soup.
- When your onions are close to being caramelized, add minced garlic and mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 minutes more. Then add arrowroot starch (optional, for slight thickness) and stir to fully combine (it should absorb fully into the onion mixture). Use a wooden spoon to disperse any clumps.
- Add bay leaf, dried or fresh thyme, vegetable broth, and coconut aminos (reserve the miso for later).
- Cover and simmer soup for about 20 minutes to develop and meld the flavors. Then simmer uncovered for another 5-10 minutes so it thickens slightly (the flavors will intensify even more). Ensure it isn’t boiling — only a gentle simmer. If serving with croutons, prepare at this time (see notes below).
- To incorporate the miso, add it separately to a small dish and top with ~1/4 cup of the warm broth. Use a spoon or whisk to fully combine, ensuring there are little to no clumps. Then add back to the pot and turn off heat (this ensures you don’t cook the miso, which would dampen its nutritional benefits). Stir to combine.
- Taste and adjust flavors as needed, adding more salt or pepper to taste, coconut aminos for depth of flavor, or miso for umami flavor.
- Serve hot topped with toasted croutons (optional) and additional herbs and black pepper. Store cooled leftovers in the refrigerator up to 4-5 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Store croutons separately (loosely covered) at room temperature up to 1-2 days.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with avocado oil and without optional ingredients or croutons.