Scott came home the other night to find me in the kitchen with a Cheshire-Cat-type grin on my face. “What?” he said.
“Nothing,” I shrugged, ” I’m trying out something new for dinner tonight, that’s all. Actually, it’s more of a starter.”
He raised an eyebrow and cocked his head to the side – part curious, part “Oh, God what am I the guinea pig for now?” He sat down and I brought out two bowls of soup — right from the refrigerator. Chilled Vidalia Onion Soup.
As I sprinkled chopped chives on the soup, he bemoaned, “You know I don’t like cold soups. What is it?” eyeing the creamy white contents of the bowl suspiciously.
I grinned again, “It’s a Vidalia onion soup. Just taste it,” I coaxed.
He hesitated before scooping up a spoonful, gave it a sniff and then put the tip of the spoon to his mouth…
His eyes popped open! A smile formed. “Wow! That’s incredible! It tastes sweet. Is there sugar in it?” I shook my head. “Cream?” Another shake, no. Another spoonful and another. Pretty soon we were scraping our bowls trying to eek out every last drop. It’s that good.
I’ve been dreaming of this soup for years. Literally. I first had it at my brother’s wedding. It was the appetizer at dinner. I remember tasting it and being blown away by the delicate, pure flavor, which I couldn’t quite identify. I checked the menu and saw that it was a “chilled spring onion soup” and I was completely smitten with it.
I made a note to try and make it at home. Fast forward 13 years and I still hadn’t gotten around to the soup, but there was a huge display of Vidalia onions at the market and it triggered my memory. I put four onions in my cart — finally ready to recreate that creamy cold bisque.
My Mom and I discussed various methods for making it, and I decided to go with the most straightforward. Cook and blend. I started by sauteing the onions in olive oil with a few sprigs of thyme, covering with the lid and simmering just until they were translucent. I kept the heat low to prevent browning and when they were ready, I transferred the onions to a blender along with some vegetable stock and pureed until smooth. Then, I tasted. I had cream at the ready — just in case, but I was surprised to find that the soup didn’t need it. It was perfect and just as I remembered. Light, creamy and sweet. I was giggly as I poured the soup into a container to chill. I knew it was GOOD!
The next day, Emily spied the leftovers in the fridge and asked, “What’s that?” with a tinge of “ewwwww” in her voice. I smirked and handed her a spoon. “No, I’ll wait until you heat it up” she said.
“It’s a cold soup,” I said.
Eyebrows raised, “Oh. What kind?”
Nose wrinkling, “Um, no thank you.”
“Just a taste,” I cajoled her.
“Ok, but not a whole spoonful.” A tentative taste. “Oh-Ma-Gawd! That’s so good!” Another bite. “Is there sugar in it? Is there cream? Do we get to have it for dinner?”
LOL! I’m telling you, you need to make this! It’s a taste revelation! Gorgeous, simple and light! Ideal for a hot summer night and your friends and family will be speechless (in a good way)! Promise!
Chilled Vidalia Onion Soup
- 4 medium to large Vidalia onions
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- chopped chives optional
- Peel and slice the onions. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and thyme, stir to coat with the olive oil and place a tight fitting lid on the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent. Do not brown the onions. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard.
- Transfer the soft onions to a food processor or blender. Add the kosher salt and vegetable broth and puree until smooth. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
- If soup separates overnight, stir it until it's smooth again, then ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped chives.
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