Vidalia Onion Soup Recipe: Hail, Hail Vidalia

Cook up a rich vidalia onion soup in celebration of this spring veggie's debut.

Vidalia Onions

Vidalia Onions

Every April the town of Vidalia, Georgia pays tribute to their most famous cash crop, sweet Vidalia onions.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Vidalia Onion Committee/Photo by Joey Ivansco

Image courtesy of Vidalia Onion Committee/Photo by Joey Ivansco

Every April the town of Vidalia, Georgia pays tribute to their most famous cash crop, sweet Vidalia onions.

I’ve loved Vidalia onions since childhood; one of the many pleasures of spring. Not an idea that makes most children’s hearts go pitter patter—“onion casserole, yes, please!”—but my grandmother used to make a gratin: a delicious blend of Vidalias, cream and Swiss cheese that rocked my world and made me realize onions could be a delicious entity in their own right, not just a hamburger topping or one of the bit players floating in a vegetable soup. 

The unique product of a 20-county area of Georgia and the state’s official vegetable since 1990, the Vidalia was the serendipitous discovery of Thirties-era farmer Mose Coleman, credited as the first grower of this milder onion variety. Every April the town of Vidalia celebrates their most famous crop with the Vidalia Onion Festival with the requisite Golden Onion Vidalia-cooking contest and the election of a Miss Vidalia Onion.

In honor of the annual spring Vidalia harvest, chef Marc Taft of the farm to table restaurant Chicken and the Egg in Marietta, Georgia does a decadent version of Vidalia onion soup served with chicken liver mousse, Vidalia onion jam and candied bacon crostini. The recipe was Taft's Golden Onion entry in last year's Vidalia Onion Festival.

Creamy Vidalia Onion Soup

For the Soup:

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 5 pounds Vidalia onions, sliced
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 quarts chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1-2 cups of white country bread, crumbled
  • Kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy pot. 

Add the onions, thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until onions are softened.

Add sugar, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized.

Remove onions to a bowl and set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pot and add celery, garlic and bay leaf and cook for 2-3 minutes. Increase heat and add sherry. Reduce by half.

Add back onions and add chicken stock. Cook for about 30 minutes.

Add heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add bread to soup and stir until incorporated.

Puree the soup in a food processor or blender.

Season with salt and pepper. 

For the Crostini:

  • 1/2 loaf crusty bread, sliced thin
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper
  • Fresh parsley, chopped fine or dried parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Brush bread with olive oil and season with salt & pepper.

Sprinkle parsley on the bread.

Place on baking sheet and bake until crusty and golden brown.

For the Chicken Liver Mousse:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups Vidalia onions, diced
  • 1 cup Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound chicken livers, cleaned
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Melt butter and sauté onion, apple and thyme until soft.

Over medium heat, add livers and cook until firm.

Cool all ingredients. Add pepper, salt and brandy and puree in food processor.

Chill, covered.

Whip heavy cream into peaks and fold in pureed chicken livers.

For the Vidalia Onion Jam:

  • 2 pounds Vidalia onions, sliced thinly
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Karo corn syrup, dark
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • Kosher salt

Heat butter over medium-low heat, add onions, cover and cook until soft.

Combine rest of ingredients and add to onions. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer until syrupy.

Pour in storage container, cool to room temperature.

For the Candied Bacon:

  • 8 thick slices of premium smoked bacon
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • Ground cumin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly coat bacon with brown sugar. Press sugar into bacon.

Sprinkle bacon with cumin.

Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, flip over and bake another 5 minutes.

To Assemble:

Place desired amount of mousse on the crostini. Top with Vidalia Jam and Candied Bacon. Serve alongside the soup.

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