Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Creamy White Onion Soup

This is the most delicious new recipe I’ve tried in a long, long time. I had been collecting onion soup recipes, but I what I was really looking for was dark, brothy, French onion-style soups. I tossed this recipe in with the rest, however, hoping it would have some ideas within it to steal. It turned out to be so wonderful, that I might just forget about French Onion soup!

The original recipe was fancy and complex, not because the soup itself was particularly fussy, but because there were a few fussy accompaniments. You see, this recipe was from a high-end restaurant, and was designed to satisfy someone with much higher expectations that I would have for a weeknight supper. There was a tiny toast garnish with cheese along with a dollop of onion jam. All good things, I’m sure, but I just wanted the soup.

For the most part I stuck to the recipe for that delicious soup. I didn’t have one or two of the ingredients for the subtle flavorings, but I either left them out or made a pretty adequate substitution. I also left things a wee bit rustic by not straining the soup after pureeing it, which I found to be just fine.

The soup gets its beautiful pearly whiteness when white onions are cooked until they are very soft, but without letting them brown. My soup had a few flecks of color because I added crushed red pepper flakes, not having fresh chiles on hand. I didn’t mind the slight marring of the appearance, but you could use a fresh chile instead. As a complement to the rich, creamy texture, I recommend some kind of crunchy garnish, like croutons or crostini, or sesame sticks like I used. A sprinkling of fresh chives goes a long way toward making a bowl of this soup look beautiful without a whole lot of extra work.

In the end this soup is fabulously flavorful and extremely satisfying. It’s sweet and rich, flavored almost entirely with white onions, wine, and cream. The onion flavor is the dominant flavor, but it is balanced and enhanced by the cream. The two kinds of wine that go into the soup, dry white wine and sweet mirin, bring out interesting tastes in the onions as well as contribute their own flavors. I really do recommend using white onions and the full dose of butterfat from the heavy cream. The resulting melded flavors and smooth, luscious texture is something you just don’t want to miss!

Creamy White Onion Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine

You can replace the red pepper flakes with a small, diced chile pepper if you wish.

¼ cup olive oil
4 large white onions, peeled and chopped
1 leek, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste if needed
4 medium-size cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup mirin
½ cup heavy cream
Crunchy croutons or sesame sticks for garnish
Finely chopped fresh chives for garnish

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, leek and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are just soft, about 10-12 minutes. Do not let the onions brown.

2. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook about 1 minute more.

3. Add the dry white wine and the mirin. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and cook at a low simmer until the onions are very soft and translucent, about 25-30 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

4. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender and puree until very smooth. (Add a little water if needed.) Return the pureed mixture to the pot and add the heavy cream. Reheat over medium-low heat. Serve hot and garnished with croutons or sesame sticks and chives.

Makes about 6 servings.

Another recipe like this one: Potato and Garlic Scape Soup with Chives

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