I also love French onion soup, with its deeply caramelized onions in a rich broth, stale slices of bread to soak up that broth and lots of hot, bubbly cheese on top. But this is not that onion soup. This soup is inspired by my favorite dip: French onion, and the potato chips it’s generally served alongside.
Instead of watching a pan of onions on your stovetop for an hour, you throw sliced sweet onions on a sheet pan and let them roast until they start to caramelize. They won’t get as deeply browned as you generally want them for French onion soup, but this is a creamy onion soup, that benefits from the firmer cooked — not caramelized — onions.
That said, there are a few tricks to getting the onions to partially brown in under an hour: First, use sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla. Then, slice them, coat them in olive oil and toss them with salt, sugar and onion powder. The salt gets them to sweat, the sugar encourages caramelization and the onion powder amps up their oniony flavor.
I like to roast a head of garlic on the same sheet tray. Then, I’ll squeeze out the cloves and puree them in a blender with the onions and broth. Since there aren’t many ingredients in the base, you’ll need a rich beef, chicken or mushroom broth to ensure every spoonful of this soup is full of flavor. If you use a carton or can of store-bought, pale stock, the resulting soup may be bland.
After blending the onions, garlic and broth into a smooth puree, taste it, and add additional salt or freshly cracked pepper to taste. For a thinner soup, add more broth. Rewarm the soup in a pot on the stove over gentle heat while you get out the sour cream and potato chips, and finely chop a few chives. All that’s left to do is ladle the soup into bowls, add a dollop of sour cream, a handful of potato chips and a sprinkling of chives. It’s dip for dinner — in soup form.