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Dec 10, 2006 03:12 AM

Onion soup without beef stock?

Does anyone have a recipe for onion soup without beef in it? My mother has stopped eating beef and what she misses most of all is onion soup. Anyone? Thanks in advance.

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  1. I think the original stuff, as the story goes, was made by the French King's chef at the deserted hunting lodge out of lost & found items including an onion, some butter to brown them in, and a bottle of champagne or white wine. Salt, pepper, and onward from there.... I would simmer a bay leaf in the broth while it flavors up from the onions, perhaps also thyme. A little Marsala couldn't hurt. That's for a totally vegetarian soup. I also don't see anything basically wrong with chicken broth in it, or pork broth if your mother doesn't mind meat of another kind. Does buffalo / bison count as beef? The taste is quite good if it's just beef she doesn't want to ingest.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LindaJ

      <<Does buffalo / bison count as beef?>>
      I'll have to ask her that! Thank you for the idea. Thanks all for your feedback. Her choice to abstain from beef is religiously, not nutritionally motivated. I did try to make onion soup with a chicken stock but it lacked a certain depth I had hoped to find -- but perhaps I need to fortify with wine, though it's hard to imagine that I didn't. I add wine to EVERYTHING. Thanks most kindly.

    2. I don't see why it couldn't be made by replacing the beef stock with chicken stock. When I was in Argentina, the French onion soup was clearly chicken broth based with lot's of wine flavor. This was a little add considering the emphasis on beef there. But it was delicious.

      1. I actually always use chicken stock, and I think cook's illustrated prefers that. However, if the reason for no beef stock is nutritional, then there's no reason to fear beef stock.

        1. If you want to make a veg version, there's a brand of "brown stock/flavoring" that's meat-free (it's pretty much just salt and spices) and very tasty.

          1 Reply
          1. re: piccola

            Actually, it is more accurately stated thus: 'If you don't want to make it the original--- that is, totally vegetarian ---way, just add beef or chicken stock, instead of water.' There's a reason it's NOT called "French Onion and Beef or Chicken or Pork or Lamb or Bison or Venison or Pheasant or Elephant Soup"! It's ONION soup! (Suggested reading, and recipe, Michael Ruhlman's "RUHLMAN'S TWENTY: 2O Techniques, 100 Recipes; A Cook's Manifesto". See "Technique #4 : ONION"

          2. How long are you caramelizing the onions? I once made onion soup forgetting that I didn't have beef stock in the house, and got a lot of complexity from just caramelizing the onions a little longer. Those onions were going for more than an hour (probably closer to two) on very low heat before I added any flour, wine or chicken stock. Also, what kind of onions are you using? My onion soups turn out much better with large Spanish onions than regular onions.