Red, white, yellow, green: choose your onion soup color Essay

Warm to cool in hue, these four soups display the delicate palette ofdifferent onion varieties. Slow cooking brings out the naturalsweetness of each type of onion. And additional ingredients reinforceits color and enhance its flavor.

Red onions, fortified with shredded beet, make a borscht. Mildwhite onions are enriched with cream and topped with a sprinkle ofnutmeg, then garnished with cheese-topped toast rounds. Traditionalyellow onion soup is laced with sherry, flavored with turmeric andcoriander, and crowned with parmesan and homemade croutons. Sauteedleeks and green onions become the base for a delicate, lemon-fragrantchowder that’s garnished with chives, lemon slices, and whippedcream. Red Onion Borscht 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine 4 largered onions (3 to 3-1/2 lb.), thinly sliced 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 1/2pound beets, peeled and shredded 2-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 6cups regular-strength chicken broth 1/3 cup port (optional) Sour cream In a 5- to 6-quart pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions(reserve 1/3 cup for garnish), vinegar, and beets; stir often untilonions are very limp, 25 to 30 minutes.

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Stir in flour. Add broth. (Ifmade ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to 2 days.) Stirringoccasionally, bring to a boil; add port.

Ladle into 4 to 8 bowls andgarnish each with a spoonful of sour cream and a few slices of reservedred onion. Serves 4 to 6 as an entree, 8 as a first course. CreamyWhite Onion Bisque 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine 6 large whiteonions (3 to 3-1/2 lb.), thinly sliced 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 5cups regular-strength chicken broth 1 cup whipping cream 1/8 teaspoonwhite pepper Toast rounds (recipe follows) Freshly grated or groundnutmeg In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine the butter and the onions. Cookover medium heat, stirring often, until onions are very limp, 25 to 30minutes. Stir in flour.

Add broth, cream, and pepper. (If made ahead,cool, cover, and chill up to 2 days.) Stirring occasionally, bring to aboil. Ladle into 4 to 8 bowls. Set 2 toast rounds atop each bowl ofsoup. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Serves 4 to 6 as an entree, 8 as a firstcourse. Toast rounds.

Place 10 to 12 baguette slices (1/2 in. thick) in asingle layer on a 10- by 15-inch baking sheet. Bake in a 325[deg.] ovenuntil toasted, about 25 minutes.

(If made ahead, cool, wrap airtight,and store up to 2 days.) Shortly before serving, brush toast roundswith 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) melted butter or margarine and sprinkle with 1/2cup shredded Swiss cheese. Broil about 4 inches from heat until cheesemelts, about 1 minute. Use hot. Golden Onion Soup 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.)butter or margarine 6 large yellow onions (3 to 3-1/2 lb.

), thinlysliced 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric 2-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 5 cupsregular-strength chicken broth 1/3 cup dry sherry (optional) 1/2 cupfreshly grated parmesan cheese Croutons (recipe follows) In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine butter, onions, and garlic. Cookover medium heat, stirring often, for 20 minutes. Add coriander andturmeric and cook over low heat, stirring, until onions are very limp, 5to 10 minutes longer. Stir in flour. Add broth. (If made ahead, cool,cover, and chill up to 2 days.) Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally;add sherry.

Ladle into 4 to 8 bowls. Garnish each serving with cheeseand croutons. Serves 4 to 6 as an entree, 8 as a first course.

Croutons. Cut about 1/4 pound French bread into 1/2-inch cubes tomake 2-1/2 cups; place on a 10- by 15-inch pan. Bake in a 325[deg.]oven until toasted.

(If made ahead, cool and store airtight up to 2days.) Shortly before serving, mix with 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) melted butteror margarine. Triple Green Onion Chowder 6 large leeks (about 3 lb.)1/4 cup butter or margarine 2-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 6 cupsregular-strength chicken broth 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves 1/8teaspoon white pepper 3 cups thinly sliced green onions, including greentops 3/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 cupwhipping cream, whipped Whole chives and thin lemon slices Cut off and discard root ends and tough dark green stems of leeks;if necessary, peel off tough outer layers.

Split leeks lengthwise andrinse well. Thinly slice to make 5 cups. In a 5- to 6-quart pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add leeksand cook, stirring often, until they are very limp, about 20 minutes.Stir in flour. Add broth, thyme, and pepper. (If made ahead, cool,cover, and chill up to 2 days.) Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally;add green onions and cook just until they turn bright green.

Stir inlemon peel and lemon juice. Ladle into 4 to 8 bowls. Garnish each witha dollop of whipped cream, some chives, and lemon slices. Serves 4 to 6as an entree, 8 as a first course.

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