In Season: Onions, Year-Round

Onions have become such a staple in pantries that they hardly seem like a vegetable at all. I can’t think of making a pasta sauce, or a quick saute without the warm sizzle of a pile of onions going into the pan first. But onions deserve to be celebrated for their own glory from time to time.

I can’t think of a more delicious way to enjoy them than in a soup. Now we've all heard of French onion soup—that rich dark broth, bubbling over with mounds of Gruyere cheese shielding the soup from the wayward spoon. I love it, but there are times when that soup is a bit much. I want my soup pure, unadulterated, and all about the onions.

So I simply make—onion soup. I use scads of onions, both red for sweetness and yellow for pungency. I add balsamic vinegar, for the tart acid. To make the soup reminiscent of its French cousin, I even make cheese toasts to float on top. It’s true this soup is slightly ascetic, but it is unadulterated onion. Try it; maybe you’ll find that you won’t miss this soup’s French-ified brethren either.

Onion Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large red onion, cut in half and sliced thinly, about 2 cups
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced thinly, about 4 cups
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon flour
4 cups broth
Salt and pepper
Cheese toasts*

Add olive oil and butter to a Dutch oven, or large saucepan set over medium heat. When butter melts, and foam subsides, add the onions and a sprinkling of salt. Saute, stirring occasionally until onions reduce by half. Add the garlic, and continue to saute until onions are translucent and starting to color. Add the vinegar, and continue to cook until onions are almost dry, about 1 minute. Stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, just to get the raw flour taste out of the mixture.

Add the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cook for 10 minutes, until flavors meld. Taste for seasoning. Serve with a cheese toast floating on top of the soup.

*To make cheese toast: Slice French bread, or another country-style loaf, into 1 inch pieces. Sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese. Broil for 1-2 minutes, or until bubbly, and golden brown.

 

Adrienne Kane is a writer and photographer. She is the author of a memoir, Cooking and Screaming, and the food blog, nosheteria.com.

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