I absolutely love soup, particularly during the grey days of winter. For me it can be a meal in itself, a side for a sandwich or salad or a starter. Soup is also a great pantry and fridge cleaner, because even the humblest ingredients can be transformed into something special, with a minimum of effort.
This recipe is a perfect example, as it was born from an excess of onions. I have a tendency to buy an onion or two every time I’m in the grocery, and every once in awhile I end up with a backlog I need to use up. I had read a recipe in a cookbook for a roasted onion bisque, but couldn’t find it or remember exactly what it called for, but the idea stuck with me. Roasting brings out the sweetness of any vegetable and mellows the flavor of onions, taming some of the bite. I love that this recipe has the hint of familiarity of a French onion soup with the added comfort of a creamy, rich texture. Any number of toppings can be added – crispy croutons, salty bacon, crumbly cheese, chopped herbs. Thyme is a perfect pairing for onions, but you could also use marjoram or rosemary. I like to puree it until very smooth, but leave a little texture if you prefer. Push the puree through a strainer for an extra velvety soup.
- 2 – 2 ¼ pounds sweet yellow onions (about 2 large)
- 10 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (1 32-ounce box)
- 4 Tablespoons sherry, divided
- 6 – 7 full sprigs of thyme
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 375. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or no stick foil. Peel all the papery skin from the onions and cut each onion into eight wedges, held together by the root end. Place the onion pieces on the baking sheet and spray or brush all sides of the onions with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Peel the garlic coves and place them on a small piece of foil and coat lightly with olive oil. Wrap the cloves tightly into a little foil packet and place on a corner of the baking sheet. Roast the onions and garlic for 30 minutes, then use tongs to carefully turn the onions and roast another 30 minutes, until the onions are soft and lightly browned in places. Transfer the onions to a Dutch oven. Unwrap the garlic cloves and add them to the pot. Pour in the chicken broth and stir in 3 Tablespoons of the sherry. Drop in the thyme sprigs and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Fish out the woody thyme stems then transfer the soup in batches to a blender and puree until smooth. Vent and hold down the top of the blender with a tea towel to be safe. Return the soup to the wiped out pot and add the remaining 1 Tablespoons sherry and the heavy cream and stir until combined. When heated through, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.