A recipe for Vegetarian French Onion Soup inspired by our visit to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom! This is the last post and recipe from our trip to Orlando in October 2013. Previous posts include Epcot International Food and Wine Festival 2013 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5), Legoland Florida, and Downtown Disney.
Magic Kingdom was Evan’s favorite park. There were plenty of rides and activities for his age group. He was just an inch above the height requirement for Tomorrowland Speedway and got to steer in the cart while Chad controlled the gas. He still couldn’t see over the steering wheel, so it was quite a bumpy ride.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant has improved with the addition of a second carousel and an indoor playground to enjoy during the wait in line. Evan loved the playground so much, he was hesitant to leave to go on the actual ride. His favorite attraction was Tom Sawyer’s Island. After a (three hour!) nap in the stroller, Evan was ready to walk around. He could have spent all day climbing the stairs and exploring the cave, windmill, and other places on the island. The shade was also nice on such a hot day.
Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney movie growing up and I was excited to see all the new additions to the new Fantasyland. Unfortunately, we didn’t check out Belle’s cottage (bottom right on above photo) since there is no way Evan would sit through Enchanted Tales with Belle.
Be Our Guest
We did get to eat lunch at the new Be Our Guest restaurant. I couldn’t use the fastpass + this trip so we had a bit of a wait in line, about 40 minutes. Lunch is counter-service, while dinner is table service. Evan was starting to get overtired and the wait didn’t help, but I am so glad I got a chance to look inside.
The food was ok, but the atmosphere was incredible. Everything was so intricately detailed, down to the tiled floors and roses carved into the chairs. I was completely mesmerized. First, the line outside takes you across a bridge with a view of the Beast’s castle in the distance.
Once entering the restaurant, we walked through a hallway with talking suits of armor before entering the area with the kiosks. We ordered our food, then chose a table from one of the three dining areas. We sat in the Ballroom, an amazingly decorated large area with painted ceiling and chandeliers. Look out the windows and you can see snow falling (just ignore the fact that it is 80 degrees outside). The other two dining areas are a bit smaller. The West Wing is dimly lit with slashed curtains covering the window and even has the rose protected by glass. The Rose Gallery is the brightest of the rooms. The Beast and Belle twirl in the center and the walls are covered with photos of characters from the movie.
I ordered the French Onion Soup and The Master’s Cupcake. Chad had the Braised Pork and we ordered the Whole Grain Macaroni for Evan.
The French Onion Soup uses a vegetable broth as a base instead of the normal beef broth, so it was a bit lighter than traditional French Onion Soup. It had the melted, bubbly layer of Gruyere cheese on top to help with the lighter flavor.
I usually don’t like chocolate cake, but still ordered the Master’s Cupcake purely so I could try the Grey Stuff. The cake was a chocolate sponge cake, so nice and light. The Grey Stuff, whipped cookies and cream panna cotta, started in the center and piled about 1 1/2 inches above the cake. It was delicious and someday I plan on trying to make it at home. Since the Grey Stuff filled the center, the cake wasn’t overwhelming and they complimented each other well. With his hatred of chocolate, Chad didn’t fully appreciate it.
The Braised Pork was cooked 8 hours and served over mashed potatoes with green beans, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and bacon. He really enjoyed it. Evan’s meal was a bit bland and he didn’t eat much of it. He was more interested in Chad’s braised pork and vegetables. This restaurant is immensely popular, so definitely use the fastpass + system for lunch, if possible, to avoid the long wait we had and book the dinner reservation immediately when it becomes available. We rushed through our lunch to let Evan take a nap, but I hope to visit again someday to look at the detailing inside a bit closer.
Evan only sleeps in the stroller if it is constantly moving, so we walked all over Magic Kingdom (a couple of times) after lunch to explore the shops in Main Street and the areas of the park we have rushed through in previous visits. Since it was mid-October, the park was decorated for Halloween. Even the treats in the bakery reflected the holiday.
Winnie the Pooh
Evan woke up just in time to visit Winnie the Pooh and Rabbit. He loved them immediately, just like Mickey, and saw them as big stuffed animals to cuddle. Poor guy did not want to leave when he turn was over and we pretty much had to drag him away screaming.
For a quick dinner, we stopped by Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square. They are open from breakfast through dinner, but their savory waffle sandwiches are only available from 11 to 5. I got the Sweet and Spicy Chicken and Chad ordered the Ham, Prosciutto, and Cheese. We sat a picnic table next to the restaurant and had a great view of the castle while we ate. Evan ate a little of both of ours, but preferred Chad’s sandwich since mine was a bit spicy. The portions were on the large side and we were only able to finish about 3/4ths of the sandwiches.
Vegetarian French Onion Soup
I was inspired by Be Our Guest in Fantasyland to make my own Vegetarian French Onion Soup at home! The broth is lighter than the traditional beef broth used in French Onion Soup, so make sure to use a good quality one to maximize the flavor. I used the opportunity to make homemade vegetable broth for the first time. It is actually quite easy and a great way to use discarded scraps of vegetables you would normally throw away. I used the base recipe from My Humble Kitchen and added pieces of mushrooms, spinach, parsley, carrots, and onions.
I topped each soup bowl with a thick slice from a baguette. For the updated photos, I used a baguette from a local French bakery near our house. You can also make your own with this recipe from Pick Fresh Foods. Evan was especially excited about dipping the extra slices of bread into the soup all by himself. I placed slices of Gruyere cheese over the bread and barely overlapped the bowl so it completely covered the soup when broiled.
To caramelize the onion slices, cook over low to medium low heat until a deep golden color and softened. Don’t rush the process by turning the heat up. It takes time for the flavor to develop, around 30-40 minutes.
Vegetarian French Onion Soup Recipe
Adapted from Because I Like Chocolate
Vegetarian French Onion Soup
- 3 large yellow onions
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup white wine
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 baguette
- 4-5 thick slices Gruyere cheese
Peel the onions, slice them in half, then thinly slice into half moons.
In a large pot, drizzle olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the onions, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and deeply golden, around 30-40 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed between medium low and low to keep the onions from burning before they get a chance to caramelize.
Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Increase heat to medium-high. Pour in the wine and stir, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Once the wine has reduced by half, pour in the vegetable broth followed by the bay leaf and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to blend. Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems.
While the soup is cooking, slice the baguette into 1/2 inch thick slices and toast until golden.
Divide the soup among broiler safe bowls. Top each with a toasted slice of baguette. Cover with large slices of Gruyere cheese. Place bowls on rimmed baking sheet and broil until the Gruyere is melted and starting to brown.
Serve immediately with the remaining slices of baguette for dipping.