Lots of different types of food come to mind when one thinks of the word decadent - chocolates, caviar, wine, champagne - but I bet vegetables don't top the list. Especially a vegetable like the onion. An onion is spicy, flavourful, mild...but almost never an indulgence, right?
Until I came across this recipe for onion soup, that is.
Onions are one of my favourite vegetables, and I used to pine for them back at my parents' home when, during Dussehra, mom would cook without onions or garlic for ten whole days. The food was delicious as usual, but lost some of its savour. I discovered white onions a couple of years ago at the mandi and found them very interesting.
The soup recipe came out of one of my favourite cookbooks, titled simply Soups, Salads and Starters. It's technically meant to be made out of yellow onions but since I don't get that here, I make it with the white onions, and it is a joyous experience - like tasting creamy satin and velvet. Of course, while I say and mean decadence, my innate prudence ( and need to lose weight) make me pare down the amount of fat recommended in the original recipe - that calls for 115 gms of white butter - that's like a small pack of amul butter and more! I use a much smaller knob of butter and sometimes bung in a dab of clarified butter or ghee to add its nutty, sensual aroma. Someday I'm going to live dangerously and actually make it with the recommended amount of butter and see what the difference is...but not now!
1 kg white onions, finely chopped
Knob of butter (about 2 tbsp)
2 Bay leaves
2/3rd cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 litre water/ soup stock
Chopped chives to garnish
Dash lime juice
Put the butter in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and melt. Add the bay leaves and the onions and stir until they are coated with the melted butter. Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook until the onions are soft but not mushy, and not browned.
Put aside 200 gms of the onions.
To the rest, add the soup stock and let come to a boil. Simmer for five more minutes and then set aside to cool. Take out the bay leaves and puree the soup until well blended.
Put back onto medium heat and add the rest of the cooked onions. Cook for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat low and add the cream. Let the soup heat up but not come to a boil.
Serve hot, garnished with chives, and topped with a spritz of lemon juice.
To go with this last night, we paired a green lettuce salad which was a tongue-tingling contrast - light, zingy and fresh.
I love salads in winter, when the veggies are fresh and crisp, and they form a part of our dinner most nights. We mixed lettuce - torn into bite sized ( and I mean bite sized - I don't like large leaves of lettuce that you have to struggle to put into your mouth) pieces, cherry tomatoes cut into halves, red and yellow bell pepper strips, diced radish, chopped spring onions with their stalks and walnuts broken into halves with a vinaigrette - made with walnut oil instead of oil.
I mixed about quarter cup of walnut oil with a tsp of mustard, a dash of balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp of powdered sugar and some freshly crushed pepper.
The fresh crispness was a wonderful contrast to the silky smoothness of the onion soup - weekend meal heaven!