Onions I Have Loved, Beatrix Potter, plus a recipe for Six Onion Soup with Broiled Chevre Croutons

For starters, may I include this fabulous allium? She is surely an onion I have loved.

onions I have loved

onions I have loved

Along with the whole onion family – the reds, whites, yellows, the Walla-Wallas! The leeks and shallots, scallions and boilers and pearls….spring onions…chives. The garlic….

I began this post long months ago, last year in the spring, with a different garden outside my door. But in these cold, cold days of winter, wherever you may be, this fine onion soup surely has it’s place on the stove. So I’ll change the words a bit, and forge onward, into January 2014 rather than May of 2013…

The onions in last year’s garden had taken hold and were visibly growing – thank God! For weeks it seemed, after I planted them in mid-March, the over wintering juncos had a cheerful game of plucking them one by one from the ground, and flinging them about the onion patch. I imagined them quite enjoying this past time, perhaps tossing them up in the air like little batons from their beaks, trying to best their buddies as all looked on, twittering and chirping, fluffing their feathers while they watched. The first time or two it was kind of funny, thinking of the playfulness involved – after all, it was still quite cold at night, even snowy and frosty in places, without much else in the way of greenery to entertain my feathery backyard neighbors. But after the first week of these shenanigans, I wondered if I’d have any onions at all to show for the season. I kept inserting, plunking the onions back into the soil, in hopes the roots would start to form, quickly! latch on underground, take hold and prosper.

I wanted the onions to win.

Over and over I would walk out to find them scattered, and the juncos rustling in the bare elderberries, tittering and giggling no doubt. This little garden episode reminded me of one of my favorite childhood authors. Beatrix Potter. And one of my favorite characters, Peter Rabbit of course. The rascally, mischievous ….. rapscallion! The impetuous scallywag.

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At least my onions weren’t getting eaten. Just looking a little bedraggled, like toys seeing a lengthy shot of heavy play time. But, time passed. And perhaps the hormones of spring urged the juncos on to, you know, other birdie activities. And not-a-one onion seemed to have been snatched to line a nest. (They are pretty heady, after all. Do birds have a sense of smell??)

So, here’s a look at my onions as they started to prosper. O, yes. Exalted, and greenly glowing.

with a green glow all around them

with a green glow all around them

I loved the play of the onion shadows and small alderberry sticks, and such

I loved the play of onion shadows, small elderberry sticks, and such

By the way, Have you read Beatrix Potter? We – my twin sister and I – collected all of her little books, and I think at some point we split them down the middle so we each could have some when we grew up and moved away from each other. The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin is in my possession. And – The Tales of: Jemima Puddle-Duck, Two Bad Mice, The Flopsy Bunnies, copyrighted in the vey early 1900’s. Treasures. 🙂

There are even references to onions – and luckily Jemima Puddle-Duck does not get roasted with them!

Jemima Puddle-Duck and the onions she does NOT get eaten with

Jemima Puddle-Duck and the onions she does NOT get eaten with

If you love onions too, do try this lovely soup. I’ve been making it for years, through restaurant kitchens and catered events, for family. With inspiration from the Silver Palate Cookbook.

oh, for the love of leeks!

oh, for the love of leeks!

clusters of spring onions

clusters of spring onions

Six Onion Soup with Broiled Chevre Croutons

Perfect for a cool day, cold and frozen night…..anytime! And the croutons are a bit addictive, watch out.

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 4-5 shallots
  • 2 medium leeks
  • 6-8 scallions/spring onions
  • 4-5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 – 3 quarts vegetable broth  (or beef, or chicken broth for your taste buds only)
  • reduced sodium tamari, to taste, 1/4 to 1/3 c. approximately
  • 1 -2 tbsp. stone ground mustard
  • 2 tsp. or to taste Worcestershire sauce, optional
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 -3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. thyme – fresh if you have it
  • cooking oil for sauté

Peel and halve the red, yellow and white onions. Cut lengthwise in half again, then thinly slice. Peel and slice the shallots. Slice the leeks, using a little of the green, why not? then thoroughly wash. Do the same for the scallions. Chop the garlic.

With the heady mound of oniony goodness prepared – heat a thin film of olive or other quality oil in a large pot or Dutch oven on medium to medium high heat. When nearly smoking, pour in all of the onions at once, and let sauté for a few minutes before stirring, continue in this fashion, as the marvelous smell of onions caramelizing fills the air. When browned to your liking, pour in the broth and tamari, add the mustard, Worchestershire sauce, if using, pepper, bay leaves,  and thyme. Let this lovely soup simmer and bubble and fill your heart with joy.

Meanwhile, make the Chevre Croutons

  • rounds or quarters of your favorite bread, sliced
  • your favorite chevre – soft goat cheese (I’m partial to Avalanche Cheese, by the way)
  • best quality butter

In a small bowl, work a little softened butter into a little room temperature goat cheese, check. Is it spreadable? Spread onto your bread. Cut into croutons/largish bites. Place on a broiler rack and broil – keeping an eagle eye on and pull quickly from the oven when bubbly and browning. Scatter sizzlingly on top of mugs of soup, then head outside with a glass of red wine and soak up the day with birds in an uproar all around you. Or, cozy up in your kitchen in the middle of this ice cold freeze and celebrate your unabashed Onion Love.

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9 thoughts on “Onions I Have Loved, Beatrix Potter, plus a recipe for Six Onion Soup with Broiled Chevre Croutons

  1. Wonderful tale! The next Beatrix perhaps?! 🙂 I just see all the onions in communion with their winged friends and knowing their becoming was only delayed slightly, not completely interrupted! Btw ~ have you seen the movies Miss Potter? A wonderful film definitely to be savored on memory lane. Blessings for the coming of a new Spring, bounteous gardens and new adventures!!!

    • Thank you Moriya! Yes, just a bit delayed…though without the gardener’s perseverance the bitty onions would have shriveled on the ground… 🙂 I would love to watch this movie, I’ve heard of it, and now with your recommendation I will have to look for it. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  2. I loved Beatrix Potter! And your story about juncos leapt from the screen and played a movie in my mind full of joyous birds celebrating spring (by disorganizing your onions.)

  3. Very delicious soup Margaret! It was perfect for this snowy day. Just “because”, I added a few slabs of Lotus Foods new rice ramen. In this case, I used the forbidden rice flavor. The dark blacknoodle looks lovely in the soup! No goat cheese around at the moment, but perhaps tomorrow for leftovers! Jan

  4. loving the recipe – nothing beats a really great onion soup, and I’d never thought to use so many kinds of onions. thank you
    where I garden the blackbirds are known for throwing garlic and onions about the place, I’ve found the only way is to net and/or plant a little deeper than normally.

    • Thank you Claire! The soup is truly delicious. We may have to try your suggestions this spring – I’ve moved, and we’ll see if we have birdies with too much time on their “hands!”

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