I don’t think it is officially Indian summer in Park City, though we are certainly enjoying very cool nights with daytime temperatures reaching into the high 70’s. Each morning we notice a few more hints of red oak in the green hills that never turned brown this summer. The only not-still-green are the grasses, and the seeds from those drying grasses are driving anyone around here with allergies to the brink of wishing for early snow. And those lovely yellow flowers of the desert sage—they aren’t so forgiving to the watery eye and runny nose crowd either.
I think I got hit with a double whammy this week. I have all the symptoms of these allergies and a cold besides. Makes me want onion soup for dinner.
Our Ranui Garderns CSA box has included onions the last 4 or 5 weeks and I bought a bag of organic onions at the store the day before we received our first CSA onions. The first couple of weeks the onions came with their stalks. I braided them together and hung them in a holding pattern above the kitchen sink. I think onions are good feng shui, the ancient Chinese study of the natural environment, and I am hoping they will keep our kitchen protected. And maybe, even with my attempt to incorporate onions into many recent meals, we’ll still have a few onions left in a month, when our weekly CSA boxes cease for the season. Slicing this many onions can a tearful job. If you have a Cuisinart—use the slicing disc and you will be that much closer to soup for dinner, with time for a shot of tequila. About the tequila: I use 100% agave to deglaze the onions because that’s in our liquor cabinet and brandy is not. You won’t find misoin a classic onion soup either, though the tequila and the miso each add a subtle note.
Caramelized Onion and Chickpea Soup
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or butter or a combination of the 2
4 large onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
3 tablespoons 100% agave tequila añejo or brandy
5 cups vegetable broth
¾ cup cooked chickpeas
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dark miso paste
Sat and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Toasted baguette slices with basil pesto
Heat the oil and/or butter in a heavy bottomed skillet. Stir in the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and turning brown. This will take time—at least 45 minutes. If the onions start to brown too quickly, turn down the heat; don’t hurry their caramelization. Stir in the garlic in the last 10 minutes, after you see some hints of brown onion.
Deglaze the pan with the tequila, stirring it around. Transfer to a saucepan or small soup pot. Add the vegetable stock, the chickpeas and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or so.
While the soup is cooking, toast some slices of baguette and slather them with basil pesto. Set aside.
In a small bowl smooth the miso paste with water. Just before serving, fish out the bay leaves and stir the miso into the soup. Season with salt, if needed, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.