Onion soup with 'cheesy' garlic crouton

For some reason I've had onion soup floating around my head for the last couple of days despite never having made it, or as far as I can remember, never even having eaten it before. It might have had something to do with knowing there were a lot of onions in the cupboard that should perhaps get used up, mixed with a craving to actually cook something different for our tea rather than just accepting that we eat the same old things on a fairly short rotation.

So, I decided to give it a go. What would be the most amazing thing is if I had made this with my own onions and garlic - that's not to say I stole the ones I used obviously, just how cool would it be if I had grown them myself? Theo's quite understanding of my obsession with edible gardening although as we have recently helped ourselves to a slice of city living once again my edible gardening currently goes as far as this chilli plant rehoused from mums greenhouse (I'm not sure what it thinks of its new 'urban' view of the back of the old Debenhams building...). I am rather proud of my greenhouse chillis though which have spread themselves far and wide with one on it's way as far as Newcastle. I had around 14 plants from seeds that cost me 99p :)

They do however have nothing to do with my onion soup, which was incredibly satisfying and a judged a success even by Theo who doesn't usually like soup, well not homemade ones anyway. Thanks.

I looked at a few recipes, Delia's was hours long and most were quite fancy with the addition of alcohol of one sort or another. My cupboards didn't quite stretch to this but I would certainly make it to the same recipe again as well as experimenting with other additions.

  • 1kg onions
  • 1/2 a date
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 50 g vegan spread plus a bit extra for spreading
  • 1.2 L vegan vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp marmite
  • 4 slices of wholemeal bread 
  • Enough vegan cheese to top 2 slices of bread
1. The first thing to do is thinly slice your onions.

2. Then melt the 50g of vegan spread, I used Vitalite, with 2 cloves of crushed or chopped garlic in a big saucepan. 

3. Add in the onions. At first these filled the pan but they'll soon reduce down to much less than you'd think. I also added 1/2 a finely chopped date as some recipes during my browse for inspiration had added 1/2 tsp sugar at this stage to help caramelise the onions, I always prefer to use a less processed form of sugar and also just don't have any regular sugar in the cupboard!

4. Cook the onions on a medium heat for around 25 mins, stirring occasionally, until they are nice and caramelised and look golden and sticky.

5. Whilst the onions are caramelising, make the garlic croutons. These were so good, (luckily I made four so we each had one to top our soup and one to munch whilst dishing up!) and as I'm a fan of simplicity they were also very easy. They might suit some peoples preferences better if you use fancy white bread but I always prefer wholemeal and just used the sliced wholemeal I had to hand which worked a treat taste wise. Spread the slices of bread with either some vegan spread or olive oil (both sides) and then add a clove of chopped garlic on top of each slice. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes at around 180C until completely crisp and crouton-ey. Best to make at least one extra slice so you can check if they're perfect ;)

6. When the onions are caramelised add the vegetable stock, Marmite and any other seasoning you fancy and simmer for around 20 mins filling the kitchen with the most beautiful caramely onion smell and making you very hungry.

7. When the soup is done, ladel some into your bowl add a whole garlic crouton on top, top this with your favoutite vegan cheese and place under the grill for about 2 mins until the cheese starts to bubble. Then eat!

This recipe made enough for us each to have it for dinner last night avec croutons with enough left over for a light lunch today. Yum.

To end on a sugar laden confession - I did buy sugar (now all gone!) for my new cupboards last month when we first moved in in order to attempt to recreate the oversized fondant fancy cakes as seen in Tescos for Theo's birthday. It ended up as the 'lemon' variety rather than the pink strawberry I had originally planned as no red/pink vegan food colouring could be found last minute. Luckily the health food shop opposite did have vegan squirty cream for the central dome! Unfortunately only one pic was taken which doesn't quite do it justice, but it was 4 days after we had moved in and 2 after we had returned 'home' again to sell our little van (sob) so I was a bit knackered to remember to take lots of nice pics :) It was far from perfect  aesthetically but it tasted amazing and even meant we visited Herbies without ordering desert for the first time ever.