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Vegetarian French Onion Soup

Updated on January 18, 2015

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

I love French onion soup, but it's almost always made with beef broth, and I'm a vegetarian. I have my own French onion soup recipe that is easy, vegetarian, and really yummy. Read on and learn how to make it yourself!

French Onion Soup Ingredients - Using vegetarian vegetable broth

This onion soup recipe is very simple, with no fancy ingredients and little prep work required. None of these measurements needs to be perfect. A little more or a little less of anything is no big deal with this soup. For best results, use a homemade vegetable broth.

  • 2 quarts vegetable broth, homemade or from the store
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced (about 6-7 medium size, no need to be too precise)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt & pepper
  • Loaf of French bread, cut in one-inch slices
  • ½ pound Gruyere cheese, shredded or sliced

About the cheese - Use Gruyere for traditional French onion soup

Creative Commons GFDL & CC-BY-SA 2.0 de
Creative Commons GFDL & CC-BY-SA 2.0 de | Source


I'm kidding. Mostly. Gruyere cheese is really stinky, but it's the traditional cheese for French onion soup, and I think it works best for this recipe. I don't even like Swiss cheese (and this is a particularly foul Swiss cheese), but I like it with the soup and encourage you to try it.

In the end, you can use whichever type of cheese you like, and I promise I won't judge. Unless you use Velveeta, because that's just wrong.

Equipment & Tools

No special equipment needed for French onion soup

You don't need any special equipment or tools for this recipe, and there are no fancy techniques used.

  • Large pot or stockpot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Ladle
  • Oven-safe bowls

Oven-Safe Soup Bowls

HIC Individual French Onion Soup Crock Chili Bowls with Handles and Lids, Ceramic Stoneware, Brown, 14-Ounce Capacity, Set of 4
HIC Individual French Onion Soup Crock Chili Bowls with Handles and Lids, Ceramic Stoneware, Brown, 14-Ounce Capacity, Set of 4

You can actually buy French onion soup bowls, and I think you can even put cereal in them when they're not being used for soup. The specialty bowls look really nice for this soup and are great if you are serving it at a dinner party, but any oven-safe bowls will work fine for this recipe.


The recipe - Vegetarian French Onion Soup Recipe

T-fal A92280 Specialty Nonstick Stockpot Stock Pot, 12-Quart, Black
T-fal A92280 Specialty Nonstick Stockpot Stock Pot, 12-Quart, Black | Source

This soup is easy to make, and there is not much you can do to mess it up. Just watch the onions when you're browning them to be sure they don't burn.

  1. Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions to the hot pot and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The onions should become soft but not yet browned.
  3. Add the sugar, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking for about 20 minutes. Stir frequently and lower the heat if necessary to avoid burning the onions. They should be golden brown and soft. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. (The onions should be fairly sweet at this point.)
  4. Add the garlic and broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 15 minutes. You can keep the soup warm on the stove until ready to broil and serve, or allow it to cool and keep it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
  6. When ready to serve, heat the broiler and ladle the soup into individual oven-safe bowls.
  7. Top each bowl with a layer of bread, trimming slices if necessary to cover the entire surface.
  8. Cover the bread with the cheese. (Use sliced cheese and let it hang over the edges if you want the traditional messy French onion soup look and you don't mind scraping melted cheese off your bowls for hours later.)
  9. Heat under the broiler until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Onion cutting tips - How to cut an onion without tears

Check out this video clip of the always-entertaining Alton Brown advising on cutting an onion without tears. (Goggles optional.)

Stockpots - Use a Large Pot for Making Soup

Cuisinart 766-24 Chef's Classic 8-Quart Stockpot with Cover
Cuisinart 766-24 Chef's Classic 8-Quart Stockpot with Cover

A large stockpot is helpful for making this soup and pretty much required for making homemade vegetable broth. You can make the soup with a smaller pot if you need to by cooking the onions in batches and then adding them all back to the pot before you add the broth.


Prep Tools - A good knife and large cutting board makes it easier

Any knife and cutting board will work, but it's nice to have a large cutting surface and one really good knife to work with. My favorite all-purpose knife is a Santoku, which has dimples on the sides of the blade that help to release the food, so you don't have to push each slice off the blade.

More Vegetarian Soup Recipes

The Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY, is a pioneer in vegetarian cooking since 1973. This is just one of their many bestselling cookbooks.

Grab a spoon and let me know what you think!

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    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 4 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      Sounds good. We've been looking for a good veg french onion soup recipe. This sounds like it's worth a try... I love gruyere cheese!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      I just love onion soup!

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 5 years ago

      Onion soup is so yummy

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      I think I would prefer the beef broth, but I am willing to give yours a try. Pinned to my soup board and blessed. I am going to try Justin's suggestions.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love "regular" French Onion soup but my girlfriend and roommate don't eat beef. I wanted to share the joy of this dish with them, so this recipe was a really great launchpad!

      I recommend adding 1 cup of burgundy wine to the sauteed onions and letting that boil a bit until thick before adding the broth. Also, some spices: rosemary, sage and thyme to really make the flavors pop. Optional but awesome.

      Thanks Freaknoodles!

    • Jemecan profile image

      Jemecan 5 years ago

      Fantastic lens.

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      What a chic looking lens - perfect for this classic French soup. Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: A vegetarian doesn't eat meat. Cheese is dairy. There is a big difference between a Vegetarian and a Vegan.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: cheese is an animal by product, not an animal product. beef broth, on the other hand, is made with the bones of the animal.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Vegans don't eat animal produced products such as cheese or eggs, however Vegetarians do. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      you're a vegetarian and won't eat beef broth...but cheese is just fine? whatever.

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 5 years ago

      Valuable topic . Thanks. Gotta look for a "package" to make thing easier at "Trader Joes" or another grocery store in my neighborhood. Love French Cooking. COngrads on your Squidoo level 61. Conversations helps with new ideas. Thanks.

    • cherielady lm profile image

      cherielady lm 6 years ago

      wanna try it next weekend :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      enjoyed this indeed, looks terrific.

    • snazzify lm profile image

      Katie Harp 6 years ago

      great vegetarian lens! blessed by a squid angel :) <3

    • awakeningwellness profile image

      awakeningwellness 6 years ago

      Yum sounds really good...thanks for sharing!

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 6 years ago

      This vegetarian french onion soup sounds delicious! Have to try it!

    • profile image

      entertainmentev 6 years ago

      I know what I'm making for dinner tomorrow night.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you for posting a veggie version of French onion soup!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I've been looking for this recipe. Thank you. Blessings.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great Lense, we make veggie french onion soup in our home.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      If you eat Gruyere then I got news for you - you ain't vegetarian, as there are no versions of this cheese which use vegetarian rennet. It is thickened with lining of calf stomach, so you might as well have the traditional beef stock in your soup as you are eating one of the worst things there is. Sorry.

    • food monkey profile image

      food monkey 6 years ago

      looks great! nice lens!

    • JodiFromFlorida profile image

      JodiFromFlorida 6 years ago

      Yum! Great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you! I have always loved French Onion Soup and have always been more of a vegetarian than anything else! Now I have many good things to experiment with! Thank you, again!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have never tried it either. Great lens.

    • verkeerd profile image

      verkeerd 6 years ago

      Never tried the vegetarian version, I will very soon do it. Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Some vegetarians consume dairy, and some even consume eggs. It all depends on their choices. One can argue the egg consumption with the living versus not yet living debate.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Its very possible to call this vegetarian: Its easy to find vegitarian cheese. If you want it vegan just skip the cheese.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @GrinningFool: Easy: Dont put cheese on the bread and chose a bread without milk in it.

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 6 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      I just had to click on and see how to make a beef broth soup into a vegetarian soup! The recipe looks terrific! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      RecipePublishing 6 years ago


    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      If a soup has cheese in it, how can it possibly be called vegetarian? Where does the cheese come from?

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 6 years ago from West Virginia

      Sounds tasty. Blessed by your neighborhood Squid angel.

    • sushilkin lm profile image

      sushilkin lm 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge here..

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great recipe

    • itsmuzza2011 profile image

      itsmuzza2011 7 years ago

      great lens i love soup and making it for my kids they love to eat it with crusty bread, my nickname at school was soup as i hate that much of it, and i could eat it everyday, how crazy is that ?, well done i love this lens ha ha

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Please do not confuse Swiss cheese with Gruyere. And Gruyere does not stink. Try the true cave aged variety of Gruyere from Switzerland - you will never use another cheese where you need real cheese flavor.

    • greenkat lm profile image

      greenkat lm 7 years ago

      Loved It! Thanks!

    • Krafick profile image

      Krafick 7 years ago

      Onion soup is delicious. Thank you.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      It certainly looks good. I didn't know it needed sugar - I will try that, as I always think my onion soup is a missing a little je-ne-sai-quoit (I can't spell it either!).

      Here's a Cupid Kiss from a Squid Angel for Valentine's Day

    • profile image

      GrinningFool 7 years ago

      Now if we could only make it vegan!!

    • jojokaya lm profile image

      jojokaya lm 7 years ago

      Yummy..thanks for sharing

    • Tyla MacAllister profile image

      Tyla MacAllister 7 years ago

      I have been looking for a Vegetarian Onion Soup recipe for years. This one looks really yummy. *Blessed by a squidangel*.

    • profile image

      fadibody 7 years ago

      Delicious! Definitely, you got interesting lens here!

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 7 years ago from Redcar

      Sounds yummy. Thank you.

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 7 years ago

      It looks delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      sounds delish! can't wait to try it.

    • fbaum818 profile image

      fbaum818 7 years ago

      Great article. I love French onion soup.

    • rasgriz profile image

      rasgriz 7 years ago

      its look delicious

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 7 years ago

      Now that's a real treat!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: You are aware that there are vegetable based, microbial, and genetically engineered rennets as well right? Or is your self-righteous attitude getting in the way of rational thought?

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 7 years ago from UK

      Did not realise that onion soup used beef stock, I make soups regularly and have never used anything other than a vegetable stock (low salt, of course)

    • giacombs-ramirez profile image

      gia combs-ramirez 7 years ago from Montana

      Yum! Didn't think vegetarian onion soup was possible!

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 7 years ago

      I love french onion soup.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @anonymous: nothing like a judgmental attitude to help educate or inspire someone to learn more being vegetarian!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Congratulations on your Purple Star! I usually make the beef broth version but always looking to try something new. Trying to eat less meat and more veggies. Thanks for our recipe. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      strange, you claim to be vegetarian yet you eat cheese which contains rennet(stomach lining of a calf)!?! Hmm double standard. There are lots of veggie cheeses out there however... At least there are here in Holland. I too am a veggie and enjoyed your recipe. cheers

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image

      AuthorNormaBudden 8 years ago

      Congrats on the purple star! I would love for you to submit your purple star lenses at

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 8 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      I love a good onion! And apparently you are a good onion -- congratulations on your purple star.

    • semas profile image

      semas 8 years ago

      Thank you for the well explained recipe! Sounds yummy and will definitely try it out!

    • profile image

      marsha32 8 years ago

      Congrats on the purple star!

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 8 years ago

      Sounds yummy! I'd love to have you join the Delicious Vegetarian Recipes Headquarters!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 8 years ago from UK

      Wonderful, it looks delicious and easy to follow, and I love the way you put this page together. Featured on my blog (The Custard Bowl).

    • profile image

      VeggieGeek 8 years ago

      Yum this looks fantastic!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I recommend using less sugar is any sugar at all. MY boyfriend thought it was way too sweet....not sure how to fix the leftovers (suggestions welcomed)

    • Sniff It Out profile image

      Sniff It Out 8 years ago

      Sounds yummy and one I will definitely have to try!

      I have featured this on my celery soup lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      i am a vegetarian and im gonna try this recipe! :) sounds good to meee!

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 8 years ago from Minnesota

      Yummers! I must make this for my vegetarian daughter...and me, too, actually!

    • AppalachianCoun profile image

      AppalachianCoun 8 years ago

      Great lens. We will try the cheese, but we feel about the same, as you do, about swiss cheese.

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 8 years ago from Upstate, NY

      The Giant Squid Greeters are kicking off a fun team challenge. You are hereby formally invited to join my team: Kab's Fab Squid Squad. I think you'd be a great addition to the Squid Squad.

    • RolandTumble profile image

      RolandTumble 8 years ago

      Yum! I'm not a vegetarian, but this sounds great. 5*, favorite & lensrolled to my foodie lenses.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      [in reply to KathleenH] What's even better is to add cooking Sherry and Thyme to this recipe and it really gets good.

    • profile image

      deborahlynncarman 9 years ago

      Can't wait to try your French Onion Soup recipe with homemade broth.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 9 years ago

      Well, I have just featured this on Onions, They Get No Respect Thanks for adding to my lens!

    • profile image

      KathleenH 9 years ago

      Hey congratulations on a great lens! I've been looking for a good French onion soup made from scratch and I think I just found it! Thanks so much - I love the vegetarian option as we're trying to reduce our meat intake. Thanks again!

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 9 years ago

      I love french onion soup. I always make it at home as usually the recipes in restaurants have a beef stock base and I am vegetarian!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 9 years ago

      Yum. Little better than a great bowl of French Onion Soup and the lens is just as delicious.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      You can also use - McKay's beef broth - all veggie & no msg awesome tasing & they also carry chicken flavor for all your chicken receipts

    • freaknoodles1 profile image

      freaknoodles1 9 years ago

      Hi Richard! You could definitely use vegetable stock cubes and water or cans or cartons of veggie broth from the soup aisle at the grocery store. If you have more time, you'll get the best flavor and the healthiest soup from homemade broth. I have instructions for homemade veggie broth at

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      What do you recommend the broth part to be made of: would vegetable stock cubes and water suffice?

    • profile image

      beachbum_gabby 9 years ago

      I'm not a vegetarian but I love this soup matched with a garlic bread.

    • dyllen profile image

      dyllen 9 years ago

      Welcome to the 'Soups - Great Food - Recipes and Chefs' Group

      ( )

      5 stars for your great lens!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      Mmmmmmm! I'm a vegetarian too, and this is one of my favorite meals of all time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I am going to try this tonight. I wanted to try something different for our Good Friday meal and frankley the family is getting tired of grilled cheese and tomato soup!

    • Music-Resource profile image

      Music-Resource 10 years ago

      Hi Freaknoodles, Yummy Vegetarian French Onion Soup lens. ~Music Resource~

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 10 years ago

      I am vegetarian too so know how difficult it is to find a good version of this soup - thanks for this one I look forward to trying it out.

    • Clairwil LM profile image

      Clairwil LM 10 years ago

      You've been nominated for Lens of The Week!

    • profile image

      BobW 10 years ago


      This looks like a great recipe. Your lens is great. Stop by my lens at:

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 10 years ago from Arkansas USA

      My husband requested French onion soup just this week. I think I'll try your recipe this time. Thanks!

    • SpicySun profile image

      SpicySun 10 years ago

      Great lens! Nice job! Spicy says: "Come on by and visit Spicy Sun Dips." You'll love it!

    • profile image

      goldtouch 10 years ago

      I'm tempted all over this lens. 5 star.

      Fat Loss Foods

    • profile image

      Aika 10 years ago

      Whoa~ after reading your lens, I felt hungry ^_^ 5* for a yummylicious lens.

    • profile image

      karukera 10 years ago

      Très bon article!!! toutes mes félicitations ;-)

    • profile image

      containergardening 10 years ago

      This is making me Hungry! I think I need to go to my fresh container gardening and pick up to some fresh onions and try your tasty soup!

      This will be perfect for the fall! Thanks and had to give you a 5 star rating for this one!

    • mn3guy profile image

      mn3guy 10 years ago

      That sounds very good (even for a meat and three veggies guy). I can smell it now! 5*

      Meat and Three Restaurants

      Phil (mn3guy)

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 10 years ago from West Virginia

      Nice lens, and welcome to the Vegetarian Recipes Group.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Yummy, I knew I shouldn't have come in here hungry! Great Lens, well done, loved it - Kathy

    • fleurdelisrising profile image

      fleurdelisrising 10 years ago

      Delectable lens! I could eat my screen!