Take advantage of in-season Vidalia onions to prepare baked onions that taste like French onion soup. LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM
Photo: Ligaya Figueras
Photo: Ligaya Figueras

Kitchen Curious: Turn Vidalia onions into foil-wrapped French onion soup

Sometimes it seems that a recipe seeks you out instead of the other way around. Right around the time that I recently landed upon a case of Vidalia onions, my son Anton told me that he’d happened upon an easy recipe that essentially turns whole onions into slivers that taste like French onion soup. That sounded like the kind of recipe this food column was created for.

The recipe by Claire Lower published on Lifehacker.com includes a step-by-step demonstration for carving a hole into the top of an onion, stuffing it with a compound butter, wrapping it up in foil, baking it, and then, the ta-da moment, when the soft onion is sliced into meltingly sweet slivers that collapse into the heady beef jus.

You could use any onion for this cooking project, but sweeter is better. Vidalia onions are tops on the list. Not only are these Georgia-grown alliums in season right now, but their oblong shape makes it easy to trim the root end for a flattened base so that the onion sits still while baking instead of rolling around the oven.

If you tend to reuse aluminum foil, be sure that your sheets do not contain any tears or holes. You don’t want all those delicious juices to escape during baking; they are what make the dish so tasty and reminiscent of French onion soup.

My husband called this dish even better than traditional French onion soup because there’s no cheese to turn this classic comfort food into a gloppy mess. But it’s not French onion soup without the cheese, right? My solution: serve it in individual bowls and pair it with cheese toast. Add a garden salad and you’ve got a lovely light dinner on your hands. For a heartier meal, plate the onions and those divine juices in a big shallow bowl and serve as a side dish with a pot roast, along with roasted baby fingerling potatoes and carrots.

Early in my marriage, my friend Zemka advised me to throw an onion in the oven when I didn’t have a dinner plan. “The house will smell good when your husband comes home,” she said. The smell would bide time to figure out the rest of the meal. With Baked Vidalia Onions, Zemka’s trick especially holds true.

The recipe for Baked Vidalia Onions requires just onions, beef bouillon and butter. LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM
Photo: Ligaya Figueras

Baked Vidalia Onions

Baked Vidalia Onions
  • 2 Vidalia onions
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons room-temperature butter
  • 2 bouillon cubes or 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon roasted beef flavor
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Position 1 rack in the center of the oven. Position a second rack in the lower third of the oven.
  • Meanwhile, make a compound butter by mashing together the butter and the bouillon. Set aside.
  • Cut the root end off the onion so that the bottom is flat. Peel and discard the skin. Using a paring knife, core the center of the top of the onion, making enough space to fit 1 1/2 tablespoons’ worth compound butter. Repeat with the second onion.
  • Divide the compound butter evenly between the 2 onions, stuffing the mixture as deep as possible into the hole. Wrap each onion tightly in aluminum foil. (The sides of the foil should be gathered at the top — not bottom — of the onion so that juices do not escape while the onion is baking).
  • Set the onions directly on the top rack. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any juices. Bake 90 minutes, until the onions are very soft.
  • Remove the onions from the oven. Slowly unwrap the onions over a large bowl, letting the juices fall into the bowl. Add the onions to the bowl, then cut each onion into slices and serve. If desired, divide onions and juices among 4 small soup bowls. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: 54 calories (percent of calories from fat, 33), 1 gram protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 5 milligrams cholesterol, 462 milligrams sodium.

Adapted from “Butter-baked onion” recipe by Claire Lower in Lifehacker.com.

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