Warm up With a Fall Classic Using Ingredients You Probably Have on Hand!

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With less-frequent trips to the grocery store, do you find yourself standing in your kitchen wondering what you’ll make for dinner that’s not pasta?

If you have onions on hand, you’ve always got a nutritious meal just minutes away. They’re a great pantry staple: they keep for a very long time, they’re incredibly versatile, and they’re forgiving, offering almost foolproof cooking. Plus, they’re a healthy, immune-boosting food thanks to their Vitamin C, sulphur and antioxidant content.

Caramelizing onions is Canadians’ favourite way to enjoy them and the best type for caramelizing is the Spanish Sweet variety. This variety is grown in Idaho-Eastern Oregon’s Snake River Valley, and it’s prized for its mild flavour, thanks to the rich volcanic soils and dry climate in this area.

They’re also very sweet, which is their secret to great caramelization, but they’re also great eaten raw. This region is one that you can trust; they are grown on family farms—many third and fourth generation—and have some of the most stringent growing and storage methods around. None of their onions have ever been recalled, so look for Idaho-Eastern Oregon Spanish Sweets when you shop.

Buy a lot of them so you always have them on hand but be sure to store them properly. Store Spanish Sweet onions out of direct sunlight in a cool, dry, well ventilated place in a basket or mesh bag with good air circulation. Don’t store them in plastic, or with potatoes. Stored properly, they can last up to four weeks at home.

Try this satisfying recipe and be sure to make enough for lunch the next day!

French Onion Soup

Rich, savoury caramelized Spanish Sweet Onions combined with toasted bread and cheese—it’s no wonder that this soup has been a winter favourite for generations.  It’s the perfect warm-up on a chilly day. It’s delicious with or without the toasts.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
  • 4 large yellow Spanish Sweet Onions (about 3 lb/1.5 kg), thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ½ cup (125 mL) dry sherry
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups (1.5 L) chicken broth
  • Pepper, to taste

Toasts

  • 8 baguette slices
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, softened
  • 2 cups (500 mL) shredded aged cheddar or Gruyère
  • Chopped fresh chives (optional)

In a soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, thyme, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or until onions are starting to colour. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until deep golden brown and very soft.

Add sherry and bay leaves; cook for about 5 minutes more. Add broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes then remove bay leaves.

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).

To prepare toasts, spread each slice of bread with butter. Place on baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 minutes. Remove bread slices from oven and turn broiler to high.

Ladle soup into four ovenproof bowls and place bowls on baking sheet. Top each bowl with two of the toasts and sprinkle with cheese. Place under broiler until cheese is bubbly and golden.

Sprinkle with chives, if using.

Serves 4

Tip
You can substitute dry white wine or dry vermouth for the dry sherry. You can also use ½ cup (125 mL) more broth instead of the sherry if desired.

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