I am an onion lover. There are no two ways about it. Even though they are part of my yearly garden, I never have enough to last through the winter. But at the end of this last season, I was fortunate enough to get a 50 pound bag of onions from a CSA. Score! Now I have enough onions to satisfy my every culinary whim.
In my opinion, onions are the most versatile vegetable. When I am cooking, they end up in a variety of dishes: omelets, casseroles, roasted root vegetables, dips, and soups. Hardly a day goes by without a fresh onion on my cutting board.
But for me, my favorite way to enjoy them is in soup; specifically French onion soup. There is something luscious about onions that have cooked for hours over low heat. They caramelize and take on a silky quality. This is the type of soup that tastes expensive, but yet, can easily be made on a budget.
French Onion Soup
- 1/2 C. butter
- 3 lbs. onions (white or yellow)
- 4 1/2 C. water or vegetable stock
- 2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. freshly minced rosemary
- French bread
- Gruyère cheese
Peel onions, then slice them in half horizontally. Take each half and then slice horizontally again. Now take the segments and slice into 1/4 moons (if the onion was whole, it would be a whole moon, if the onion was just in half, the slices would be a half-moon). Note: sliced onions is the more traditional way of preparing the onions rather than diced.
Place a dutch oven on the stove over medium heat. Add butter. Once the butter begins to foam, add the onions. Stir to coat the slices of onions with butter. Turn the heat to low and place a lid on the dutch oven. Cook for 90 minutes, stirring periodically to prevent the onions from sticking. If onions are browning quickly, lower the heat a little more. The goal is to caramelize them rather than blacken them. (Onions that have burned take on a bitter flavor rather than becoming sweet.)
After cooking for 90 minutes, add the water (or vegetable stock). Raise the heat enough that the water (or stock) comes to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then drop the heat to a simmer. Add salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary. Allow to simmer for an additional 45 minutes with the lid partially covering the pot.
Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Ladle the soup into oven safe bowls, leaving room for bread and cheese. Place a slice of bread directly on top of the soup. Cover the bread with either shredded or thinly sliced Gruyère cheese. (I use about 1/3 C. of cheese per bowl.) Adjust the cheesiness to your preference.
Place the soup bowls under the broiler until the cheese melts. In my convection oven, this took approximately 4 minutes.
Serve while hot and enjoy!
So friends, embrace onions. Not only are they versatile vegetable, but they add flavor on a budget.