onion soup

Vegetarian French Onion Soup Recipe

My onion soup recipe is in my first cookbook, Levana’s Table

I always thought I made a good onion soup, if I may say so myself. Mine lists Swiss cheese, provolone and parmesan. But I recently received from my daughter Bella a magnificent wheel of Manchego, and decided to replace all the cheeses I usually put in with just a grated hunk of manchego: Let me tell you: It was out of this world, even though the cheese completely melted and was not visible in the soup! So here comes the recipe, just as it appears in my cookbook, but with the Manchego-only option!

Onion soup posed a unique challenge for me.

And of course I love a good challenge, so I was determined to beat it. The two trademarks of a perfect classic onion soup (besides, of course, the onions!) are the rich beef broth that serves as its base, and the cheese that melts into it, meaning, of course, a taboo in kosher kitchens!

I was not about to stand defeated, so I experimented endlessly, and bingo: A mixture of brown miso paste and dry red wine was my answer: I obtained a deep-flavored, luxurious-tasting and richly-colored broth, a perfect foil for those caramelized onions and smoked cheeses. When you try this, you will understand my feeling of triumph. My food spies from the non-kosher world have issued a unanimous verdict:

“I can’t believe this is a meatless soup!”

I have included several members of the onion family to make it even more glorious.



  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 4 large shallots, peeled
  • 2 large leeks, white parts only, sliced
  • 6 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup brown miso paste
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, or 1 teaspoon dry
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup smoked Provolone cheese, cut in small chunks
  • 1 cup grated parmesan (or replace all three cheeses with 3 cups grated manchego)
  • good pinch nutmeg
  • freshly grated ground pepper. (no added salt, as the cheeses and the miso are already salty)
  • a dozen slices baguette, cut on the bias, toasted in a 375*F oven until light brown and crisp (optional)


Heat the oil in a heavy pot. Coarsely grind the onions, shallots, leeks and garlic, and fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until dark. Add the sugar and cook for 2 more minutes until caramelized. Add the wine, miso, thyme, and 2½ quarts (10 cups) water and cook for another 30 minutes. Add the cheeses, nutmeg and pepper, and cook for another minute, until the cheese is melted. To serve, pour into soup bowls and float one slice of toasted baguette in each bowl, if using.

Yield: Makes 12 ample servings.

11 replies
  1. Tzippy
    Tzippy says:

    Hi, I am not familiar with miso and would like to purchase some . I have noticed that there are various types of miso on the market, such as brown rice, barley and soybean. Do you have a preference? Thank you.

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Tzippy, all types of miso will be good, and it is so good for you. For onion soup I want a dark miso. The darker the miso, the deeper and more intense the flavor. For miso soup for example, white , red and brown miso will be suitable, experiment with all of them, you will enjoy miso soup made with any of the three.

  2. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Dear Levana:
    In your book, the recipe calls for 1/4 cup Miso Paste but online you put 1 cup.
    Is this a mistake or did you increase/tweak the recipe?

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Sarah hi again, I’ll tweak the amount of miso yet again to total no more than 1/2 cup, as I’m afraid some cheeses might be saltier than average, and they plus the miso might the soup too salty. I would rather not risk it:-)

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