I am tearing now not because of the tear-inducing S-oxides released from fresh onions, but on the obverse, because of the mellow sweetness that this French Onion soup embodies. This soup is the swan song of The Onion Project, and am I thankful the hours and effort spent dehydrating those onions had not gone to waste!
While soup may seem the easy-way-out to a meal, a good soup is actually a rather complex affair, requiring a mastery of a technique called flavor balacing. Flavor, a term encompassing the entire sensation elicited by food, including texture, conveyed through multifarious taste receptors and all those tiny information conglomerating and interpreted in the cortex to ultimately elicit one of two responses – yay or nay. Traditional soups rely on the mirepoix (French) or sofritto (Italian) of diced carrots, onions and celery sauteed in oil as the flavor base to build up the dish. To recreate that depth of flavor in a raw soup is challenging, but possible as I am determined to show. An easy way to start would be caramelized onions, their flavors having been concentrated and mellowed through the dehydration process already.
I simply pulverized the caramelized onions in almond milk, thinning out with water until it was of semi-thick consistency and such that the onion taste was not overpowering. A few other seasonings of herbs, pepper and balsamic vinegar, and the soup was excellent! If you like more texture, feel free to divide the onions and blend in the desired amount, stirring in the reserve.
For garnish I attempted an adapted version of Almond Crème Fraiche from the cookbook Vegan Holiday Cooking, using moist almond pulp from almond milk instead of soaked almonds. Unfortunately, it turned out nothing like crème fraiche consistency; more like a mound of olive oil flavored almond pulp. It did have an interesting aerated mouthfeel, perhaps because I used fresh almond pulp with all the air bubbles still within.
This is a humble recipe that will be going into my list of staple soups, and it should go into yours too. There is something to be said for the purity of spotlight on onions and pleasure in its simplicity. French onion soup may be regarded as a poor man’s soup, but with the nouveau take on the onions a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, these elements add a touch of sophistication that everyone will appreciate. Finally, tested over multiple rounds, you had no idea of how much onions were butchered; and you had better thank me for saving you the excessive consumption of onions, onion breath and farting.
- 1¾ cup almond milk * (see Notes)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup caramelized onions (dehydrator method)
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons moist almond pulp
- ¾ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- Crispy caramelized onions (dehydrator method)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Blend ingredients on high in a blender. Pour into serving bowls.
- In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients until well incorporated. Store in the refrigerator.
- The soup is best enjoyed warm. Place the bowls in the oven on low heat to warm. Just before serving, top each bowl with a quenelle of almond creme fraiche, crispy caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar.