Sweet Vidalia Onion Soup Recipe
Sweet Vidalia Onion Soup

By Nancy Ellison

Like some 12-year-old boy waiting for baseball's opening game each spring, I count the days until my sweet Georgia Vidalia County onions arrive. There is nothing so sweet or crunchy as a Vidalia onion. One can eat a fresh Vidalia onion as if it were an apple!

I first discovered Vidalia Onions in Rome, Ga., during location shooting on the film "The Mosquito Coast." A neighbor brought over a bowl of lightly chopped spring Vidalia Onions with a bit of sour cream. Not impressive looking, but when we all sampled the simple dish we melted! While crackers were offered, the taste was so fresh and delicate that I found myself gobbling it down without any added assistance.

The soil in Vidalia, Ga., has a low sulfur content, which apparently accounts for the sweetness of its onions. While Georgia has expanded the legally trademarked cultivation area to thirteen counties in the state, I like to get mine from Vidalia county -- sentimental, I guess. Vidalia onions are available from late April through August.

Go online to vidaliaonion.org and you will find information on the Vidalia Onion Museum grand opening, recipes (Vidalia Sweet Onion and Crab Souffle, for example) cook-offs, jingle contests, free downloads and news about the Vidalia Onion Festival. Some of the recipes -- the aforementioned Onion and Crab Souffle, for example -- are well worth a try! If onions for dessert sounds like your (onion) cup of tea there are recipes for Apple-Vidalia Cake and Vidalia Onion Chocolate Chip cookies!

As for me, when I get my first case of Sweet Vidalia Onions each year, I make onion soup.

Sweet Vidalia Onion Soup Recipe

The delicacy of the Vidalia onion calls for a light balance of ingredients so I use chicken broth rather than beef broth, and limit my garlic to a minimum. While I usually love wine in onion soup, I omit it in this recipe.

1/4 lb butter

6 Sweet Vidalia Onions, sliced thin

1 clove garlic, sliced in slivers

Pinch of sugar

A bit of flour (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

32 ounces range free chicken broth

A small portion of Brie cheese with the rind cut off (optional)

Sourdough or French baguette slices cut on the diagonal

Garlic butter

Parmesan cheese, to taste

Gruyere cheese, to taste

Melt the butter in an uncovered heavy soup pot. Add thinly sliced onions and garlic. Saute gently until golden. Add a pinch of sugar -- not for taste, as these onions are truly sweet -- but to glaze the onions a bit. Add a little flour and stir until flour has been absorbed into the butter, creating a hint of roux. Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring as you pour it on to the onion mixture. Simmer for about thirty minutes.

Stir the Brie into the soup so that it blends into the ingredients. (This is optional -- given an opportunity, I would put Brie in everything!)

Meanwhile, lightly toast slices of bread with a bit of garlic butter and Parmesan cheese on top. Set aside.

Grate the Gruyere cheese. Transfer your soup into French onion soup bowls, add the toast, and cover with Gruyere cheese.

Put under the broiler until the cheese melts and begins to bubble. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese.


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