Monday, February 20, 2012

Onion bisque: a recipe

Onion bisque
Despite the lack of snow here in Vermont, it's cold enough to still qualify as soup season

And we have a real winner here.

Onion bisque: I think the best way to describe it would be that it's like fancy-shmancy pureed french onion soup.

Clearly "onion bisque" was a classier name choice.

This recipe comes from Bon Appetit. The magazine runs a column in each issue in which readers write in, seeking their favorite restaurant recipes, in order to try to re-create them at home. I love this feature because I get not only some great recipes but also some excellent ideas for where to eat when I travel.

The onion bisque recipe is one that Chef Justin Devillier makes at La Petite Grocery in New Orleans. (Pfft, like there is any bad place to eat in NOLA, really).

There's not much to it -- just a whole lot of standing around, stirring and watching the onions cook down and carmelize. I love the fact that at the very end you throw in some bread which, when the soup is all blended, gives it real body.

It eats more like a meal than a starter.

Carmelizing the onions
Not quite there yet...
And it is stunning topped with bacon. You will notice, however, that my photo shows no bacon. Truth is, we ate all the bacon before I could style and photograph a serving of the soup, so you got a fancier parsley garnish instead.

Don't skip the bacon (like you need ME to tell YOU that!)

But trust me, don't skip the bacon, no matter what my pictures look like.

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Onion Bisque (slightly adapted from a recipe by Justin Devillier via Bon Appetit)

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 cups sliced yellow onions (about 4-5 medium)
8 garlic cloves, smashed
6 cups chicken stock
tied bundle of thyme sprigs, fresh or dried
1 1/2 cups cubed stale bread (I used ciabatta because it was what I had) -- remove the crust if it's crusty
4-5 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
kosher salt and pepper
3-4 oz. crumbled goat cheese

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent (about 20 minutes). Add the garlic and carmelize the onions -- that is, cook them for about 20 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown color, stirring often. Add the broth and the thyme bundle to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the bread. Let it stand for 10 minutes, then remove the thyme bundle.

Let the soup cool a bit, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with some goat cheese and the crumbled bacon.


  1. We're planning to do something like this once the onions and garlic are grown - a homegrown roasted allium soup of epic proportions!

  2. @trashmaster46: that sounds awesome! Will you be blogging about it? At least send me a photo!