The creamy, ambrosial chilled soup no one will ever believe is vegan

Aug 23, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. ET
Image: Lisa Lotts/SheKnows

My husband, Scott, came home the other night to find me in the kitchen with a Cheshire-Cat-like grin on my face.

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“What?” he said.

“Nothing,” I shrugged. "I’m trying out something new for dinner tonight, that’s all. Actually, it’s more of a starter.”

He raised an eyebrow and cocked his head to the side — part curious, part “Oh, God, what am I the guinea pig for now?"

He sat down and I brought out two bowls of soup — right from the refrigerator. Chilled Vidalia onion soup.

Image: Lisa Lotts/SheKnows
Image: Lisa Lotts/SheKnows

As I sprinkled chopped chives on the soup, he moaned, “You know I don’t like cold soups." Eyeing the creamy white contents of the bowl suspiciously, he asked, "What is it?"

I grinned again. “It’s a Vidalia onion soup. Just taste it,” I coaxed.

He hesitated before scooping up a spoonful, giving it a sniff and then putting the tip of the spoon to his mouth. His eyes popped open! A smile formed. “Wow! That's incredible! It tastes sweet. Is there sugar in it?”

I shook my head.

“Cream?”

Another shake.

Another spoonful and another. Pretty soon we were scraping our bowls, trying to eek out every last drop. It’s that good.

Image: Lisa Lotts/SheKnows

I’ve been dreaming of this soup for years. Literally. I first had it at my brother’s wedding. It was the appetizer at dinner. I remember tasting it and being blown away by the delicate, pure flavor, which I couldn’t quite identify.

I checked the menu and saw that it was "chilled spring onion soup," and I was completely smitten with it.

Image: Lisa Lotts/SheKnows

I made a note to try and make it at home. Fast forward 13 years and I still hadn’t gotten around to the soup, but there was a huge display of Vidalia onions at the market and it triggered my memory.

I put four onions in my cart, finally ready to recreate that creamy cold bisque.

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Image: Lisa Lotts/SheKnows

My mom and I discussed various methods for making it, and I decided to go with the most straightforward. Cook and blend.

I started by sautéing the onions in olive oil with a few sprigs of thyme, covering with the lid and simmering just until they were translucent. I kept the heat low to prevent browning, and when they were ready, I transferred the onions to a blender along with some vegetable stock and pureed until smooth.

Then, I tasted. I had cream at the ready — just in case — but I was surprised to find that the soup didn’t need it. It was perfect and just as I remembered. Light, creamy and sweet.

I was giggly as I poured the soup into a container to chill. I knew it was GOOD!

The next day, Emily spied the leftovers in the fridge and asked, “What’s that?” with a tinge of “ewwwww” in her voice.

I smirked and handed her a spoon.

“No, I’ll wait until you heat it up,” she said.

“It’s a cold soup,” I said.

Eyebrows raised. “Oh. What kind?”

“Vidalia onion.”

Nose wrinkling, she said, “Um, no thank you.”

“Just a taste,” I cajoled her.

“OK, but not a whole spoonful.” A tentative taste. “Oh-Ma-Gawd! That’s so good!” Another bite. “Is there sugar in it? Is there cream? Do we get to have it for dinner?”

I’m telling you, you need to make this! It’s a taste revelation! Gorgeous, simple and light! Ideal for a hot summer night, and your friends and family will be speechless (in a good way)! Promise!

Chilled Vidalia Onion Soup

Serves 4 

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Total time: 3 hours, 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium or large Vidalia onions
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Garnish: chopped chives (optional)

Directions:

  1. Peel and slice the onions. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and thyme, stir to coat with the olive oil and place a tight-fitting lid on the pan.
  2. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent. Do not brown the onions. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard.
  3. Transfer the soft onions to a food processor or blender. Add the kosher salt and vegetable broth and puree until smooth. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
  4. If soup separates overnight, stir it until it's smooth again, then ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped chives.

This was originally published on BlogHer.

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