The Bitten Word’s Cover to Cover Challenge 2013: Bon Appétit’s Creamy White Onion Soup

Appetizer, condiments, Dinner, Vegetable | September 4, 2013 | By

ingredients for creamy white onion soup


How much fun was this for a foodie? I may not subscribe to as many food magazines as the guys over at  The Bitten Word (3 to their 10), but the urge to try out as many of the recipes as possible is always there. So I signed up for the Cover to Cover Challenge 2013, and waited with baited breath for my recipe. Bon Appétit is the magazine I’ve subscribed to the longest and I can hardly wait to read the September issue and see what my fellow challengers cooked up (delivery to the west coast of Canada takes a bit longer). Here it is, my first cover to cover experience, cooking Creamy White Onion Soup:

red onion jam


shallots pickling


Pickled shallots and red onion jam. Great condiments for future use too!


veggies for creamy white onion soup


 White onions, leeks, garlic, celery, ginger, chili; lots of good stuff!


ready for creamy white onion soup


 Filled the pot almost to the rim with onions,


sauteeing onions


 sautéed them down…


simmering creamy white onion soup


 to this. 

blending creamy white onion soup


The recipe said to cool the soup and put it in a blender and I was supposed to follow the recipe exactly, but a hand blender is so much easier to clean!

onion soup through the strainer


 Straining the blended soup took a while and some effort. It made for a creamy consistency but I honestly prefered the texture prior to blending.


adding cream to creamy white onion soup


 Stirring in the cream. Mmmm. 


toppings for creamy white onion soup


We had two kinds of Fontina cheese, comparing flavours between the Danish kind and the one from Italy. Only to discover what we bought as Italian was made in Canada…oh well, they were both good!


Fontina toast


 Now this is the way to make amazing toast: fry’em in Butter!


creamy white onion soup #covertocover13


Et voilà! Fairly similar to the picture online, non? And what was the verdict from three generations of boys around the table? Delicious, interesting, yummy, tasty, sweet, spicy, too creamy. We all agreed I should make it again, but then not worry about blending or straining the soup as we wanted to both see and taste the texture of the various ingredients. The 10-year old found the red onion jam a bit too hot, hubby thought the spices were a tad strange, while Grandpa listed other dishes it would go well with. The teenager had seconds.

The pickled shallots were not too tart, but we did have leftovers and it also seemed like there was a lot of pickle juice for a few shallots.

I discovered too late that I’d run out of red wine vinegar so had to substitute balsamic in the red onion jam. That may have contributed to the less syrupy consistency as well as the need to add about a teaspoon of extra sugar.

I had grand plans about finally trying out a brioche recipe, but ran out of time so made my trusted Italian country loaf instead. And I couldn’t pass up on using fresh chilis from my Tower Garden instead of serranos…

Loved the fact that this can be done in batches and will make this for a dinner party one day; it’s a classy first course. And a great way to spend an afternoon cooking. Thanks for the challenge, The Bitten Word!!


chili from the tower garden


 I picked the chili in the middle.



Creamy White Onion Soup

recipe from Bon Appetit’s September 2013 issue:


  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced into rounds
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar

Place shallots in a small nonreactive bowl. Bring vinegars, sugar, and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Pour over shallots; chill.

DO AHEAD: Shallots can be pickled 5 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • ¼ cinnamon stick
  • ½ star anise pod
  • ⅛ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ⅛ tsp. ground allspice

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until soft, 5–7 minutes. Add wine, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, star anise, red pepper flakes, and allspice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is thickened and syrupy, 40–45 minutes. DO AHEAD: Jam can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 large white onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped peeled ginger
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup mirin
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, leek, celery, garlic, chile, and ginger; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until soft (do not let brown), 10–12 minutes.

Add wine and mirin to pot, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent, 25–30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then purée in a blender until smooth. Strain into a large bowl and stir in cream (thin with water, if needed); season with salt. Reheat soup in a clean pot. DO AHEAD: Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.


  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 slices brioche, quartered
  • 4 oz. Fontina cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook bread until golden, about 3 minutes (you’ll have 2 extra). Flip, top with cheese, cover, and cook until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes. Top toasts with pickled shallots and chives.

Spoon some jam into each bowl, pour soup around, and top with toasts.


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