Straight from New York City, I am excited to introduce you to Dana Jacobi, my guest blog post author this week! Dana is the author of 10 best-selling cookbooks. Her most recent book, “Cook & Freeze” has 150 delicious dishes to serve now and later – which is brilliant for the busy lifestyles we all lead. Dana is not just an author thought! She is a culinary instructor, lecturer and writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column called Something Different. Dana had a talent for keeping food tasty, healthy and simple. In her post she’ll be sharing her love for sweet onions and a recipe for cold soup out of “Cook & Freeze” that I’m sure you’ll want to try!
IT’S SWEET ONION TIME
Juicy, sweet onions are one of my favorite summer ingredients. The best known varieties, from California, Georgia, New Mexico, Texas and Washington, are harvested and shipped to stores nationally all summer. Also, you may find locally grown sweet onions at a nearby farmers market, since they grow in other states, as well ADD LINK.
Loaded with phytochemicals, sweets taste milder than other onions because their higher water content dilutes the pungent compounds. Every sweet onion variety also has its own distinctive flavor, thanks to a combination of natural genetics, minerals in the soil, and local weather that contribute to what the French call terroir.
I have adored sweet onions since I first tasted one that friends with a farm in Vidalia, Georgia picked and brought to New York City. That was in the 1980s, when you had to mail order sweet onions unless you lived in or near where they were being grown. Back then, these onions were shipped so fresh that when sliced they literally dripped a sugar-sweet, milky white juice. All that liquid, though, made them hard to sauté and to store. Today, still bright and fresh but allowed to sit long enough after harvesting to be protected by a thin, light tan skin that lets them ship and store well, sweet onions are easier to enjoy in many ways.
I add raw sweet onions to all kinds of salads, from fruity Waldorf, and Asian slaw made with Napa cabbage, to combinations including leafy spinach. I also like them cooked in hot curries, where their sweetness balances off against the bitter undertone in turmeric and in chile peppers. Sweet onions are good, too, with sweet potatoes, for example in Southern Pork Chop Casserole from Cook & Freeze, my most recent cookbook.
Zucchini Vichyssoise is another recipe from Cook & Freeze made with sweet onions. To enjoy this refreshing cold soup often during hot weather, I make double batches, then freeze half. Thanks to using cream cheese in place of cream or milk, the pale green soup remains velvet-smooth and creamy when defrosted. Unlike classic vichyssoise, this version, made without potatoes, is blissfully low in carbs.
Makes 6 servings
Using cream cheese in place of cream gives the cold soup both body and a nice tang. Serve it in clear glass bowls to show off its delicate green color.
3 medium zucchini, 1-1/2 pounds
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 medium leek, white part only, chopped
6 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/3 cup snipped chives or chopped dill, for garnish
Directions: Halve each squash lengthwise. Using a teaspoon, scoop out the seeds. Shred the squash, using the coarsest side of a box grater; there should be 4 cups.
In a deep saucepan, bring the broth to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onion, and leek. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender but not falling apart, 15 minutes. Uncover, and cool the soup for 10 minutes.
With an immersion blender, whirl in the cream cheese a few cubes at a time, along with the white pepper and cayenne, stopping before the soup is completely smooth; it should still have some texture. Or, puree the soup in a blender, dropping the cheese in through the top. This may require working in 2 batches. Season to taste with salt. Cool the soup to room temperature.
If serving now, refrigerate the soup, covered, until well chilled, 6 to 24 hours. Divide it among wide, shallow bowls, and garnish with chives or dill.
To freeze, divide the soup among resealable 1-quart plastic freezer bags and refrigerate to chill.
Freeze the bags of chilled soup flat on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
To defrost, thaw the soup on a plate in the refrigerator. If the soup is grainy, whirl it briefly in a blender. Pour into wide, shallow bowls, garnish with chives or dill, and serve.