Creamy Caramelized Onion Soup

This story is about soup, but it begins with a McDonald’s.

For weeks now, the McDonald’s a mile or so away from my apartment had had the same message on its signboard: Try our grilled onion cheddar sandwich – $1. Though McDonald’s holds very little appeal for me (veggie options in India aside!), I had to admit that the grilled onion-cheddar sandwich was intriguing.  It lingered at the back of my mind for weeks, in fact.

And then I bought five or so pounds of onions. And then Daiya cheese was on sale at the co-op, and I felt compelled to try the garlic-jalapeño Havarti-style wedge that everyone raves about. And then I realized that I had all the components for something very like a grilled onion-cheddar sandwich.

Instead of grilling my onions, though, I caramelized them. Caramelized onions are (ahem, were) one of my few real culinary nemeses. It’s not that they always come out burnt or inconsistently cooked (though that’s certainly the case sometimes!), but I have never managed to make them perfect, with that mellow, deep sweetness that’s the sign of a perfectly caramelized onion.

Until this time. Armed with a battery of tips from this handy article and a brand-new non-stick pan that replaced our flaking old one, I can proudly say, without a hint of braggadocio or untruth, that I caramelized the shit out of those onions. They were soft with a few crispy bits, a marvel of kitchen science and patience. And they were pretty damn amazing with melted Daiya on slices of seedy whole-grain bread.  (By the way, that Havarti-style Daiya is THE BEST vegan cheese I’ve ever tasted. It’s the only kind I’d ever consider eating on its own, on crackers or something. It’s a sometimes-food, but I wholly recommend it if you’re interested in actually-good vegan cheese.)

Back to the onions. Now that I’d conquered caramelization, my mind was flooded with a tidal wave of ideas for how to harness the rich flavor of these sweet, tender onions. I began to suspect that they’d make a wonderful flavor base for a rich, creamy soup, and was I ever right. Please – do yourself a favor one chilly winter night and spend a little time at the stove, tending your slowly softening onions and stirring a pot of tender golden potatoes in a simple broth. Then blend them together – my brand-new immersion blender did the trick with ease – and let this hearty soup fill all the crevices of your hungry belly.

Quick soup snap.

Creamy Caramelized Onion-Potato Soup

4 medium-sized yellow onions, sliced into half-moons
3 medium-sized golden potatoes, diced (3/4 inch)
1 T olive oil
1 stalk celery, diced
1 med carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp savory
A dash or two of poultry spice
4 C vegetable broth
1 C unsweetened MimicCreme (or any other unsweetened nut cream, or even your non-dairy milk of choice)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

First, start caramelizing your onions. I won’t give you directions – use whatever method works for you! You don’t need them to retain their shape for this soup, so it’s okay if they reduce to a bit of a mushy mess – mine did.

After the onions have been caramelizing for about 20 minutes, add the olive oil to a stock pot and heat it on medium. Saute the celery, carrot, and garlic  for about 4 – 5 minutes or until they start softening. Add the spices and give the veggies a good stir to coat them. Add the veg broth and turn up the heat to medium-high. When it starts to boil, add the potatoes and bring the soup to a full boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and keep it on a low boil for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are softened and cooked through. Add salt and pepper and reduce the soup to a simmer.

By now, your onions should be caramelized. If they’re not, just keep the soup simmering. When they’re ready, turn off the heat under your soup and add the cream or non-dairy milk of choice to the sou,p and then add the onions. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender, in small batches and removing the cover between pulses to release heat), blend the soup to your desired consistency. I liked mine mostly creamy but with a few small chunks of veggies. You can also add more non-dairy milk or cream to reach your desired consistency. Top with freshly ground cracked pepper and enjoy with a slice of crusty bread.

What’s your favorite way to eat caramelized onions?
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3 thoughts on “Creamy Caramelized Onion Soup

  1. I love caramelised onions on focaccia, but now that you’ve mentioned grilled cheese with caramelised onion I wonder why I’ve never tried it before. It would be like french onion soup, without the broth! Yum!

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  2. Pingback: 10 Vegan Recipes to Make for the Holidays | vegga

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