When I was a young adult, my favorite summer job was working as a respite provider. My clients were disabled children and adults, and I would care for them in their homes or take them out into the community to give them individual attention, and also to give their care providers a break (hence, respite provider). I grew to love each of my clients, and I truly enjoyed getting to know them as we spent time together.
One of my clients was a young lady who loved to go to the mall. I would take her to the same restaurant each time, a French-style bistro. That was where I had my first bowl of French Onion Soup. I fell in love with the soft onions, sweet broth, and gooey cheese. It was like getting a taste of heaven with each bite.
The sweet, deep flavor of the broth is created by sauteing the onions for a long time over a relatively low heat. This allows to onions to caramelize, without burning. This soup takes about 1 1/2 hours from start to finish, but it’s worth it.
French Onion Soup
3 tbsp olive oil
6 medium onions, sliced
5 1/4 cups vegetable broth, or water with corresponding amount of vegetarian bouillon
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella (or replace with vegan cheese if desired)
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in onion slices to coat with olive oil. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes. The onions will be starting to get brown and wilted by now.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 35 to 40 minutes longer, stirring well every 5 minutes, until onions are light golden brown and caramelized.
Stir in broth, thyme, and pepper. If necessary, add salt to taste. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
Ladle into bowls, top each serving with 2 tbsp shredded cheese.
*For a more traditional manner of serving, ladle soup into oven-safe bowls. Top each with a thick slice of toasted bread, then with the cheese. Heat under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes or just until cheese is melted and golden brown. Watch carefully so cheese does not burn. I wanted to do this tonight, but due to an inexcusable oversight in my menu planning, we didn’t have any bread. Pout. That’s okay, the soup was delicious anyway.