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Creamy Spring Onion Soup

Good Food on Montford in Charlotte, North Carolina, welcomes spring with a delicate onion soup topped with roasted spring onions, asparagus and smoked olive oil. The restaurant coaxes flavor from ingredients by cooking them slowly over low heat. Vidalia onions are a great substitute for the spring onion garnish, and lemon-infused olive oil adds the brightness of lemon without the acidity.

For the soup:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
5 large Vidalia onions, sliced
2 cups white wine
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 fresh bay leaf
1 bunch thyme
3 cups cream

For the garnish:
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 spring onion bulbs (or 1 large Vidalia onion), sliced into 1-inch-thick rounds
3 fresh bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 pound asparagus, woody ends removed
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Lemon-infused olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

To make the soup, in a large pot over medium heat, combine the butter, onions, wine, salt, bay leaves and thyme. Cover the pot and cook over low heat, about 30–40 minutes. You want the onions to be very soft. Stir the onions occasionally and add a little water if they start drying out. Avoid getting any color on the onions. You want the soup to be ivory white.

After the onions have softened, remove the herbs, add the cream and stir. Working in batches, purée the mixture in a blender on high speed until smooth. Avoid filling the blender more than halfway; this helps achieve a velvety texture (and prevents burns). Keep the soup warm until ready to serve. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To make the garnish, coat a cast-iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and place it over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the onions and herbs and season with salt and pepper. When the onions begin to take on some color, transfer them to the oven and roast them for 5 minutes. Flip the onion rounds and return them to the oven for another 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender and caramelized. Try to keep the rounds intact for even cooking.

Remove the onions from the skillet; discard the herbs but keep the skillet handy. Cut the onion rounds into 4 equal wedges. Place them in a bowl and set aside.

Toss the asparagus with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Using the same skillet, cook the asparagus over high heat, turning frequently to char the spears on all sides. Transfer the asparagus to a cutting board and slice the spears into 2-inch pieces on the bias. Add the sliced asparagus and lemon zest to the chopped onions and toss to combine.

Ladle 1–1 1/2 cups warm soup into each bowl and garnish with the caramelized onions and asparagus. Finish with a drizzle of lemon-infused olive oil (or regular olive oil). Serves 10–12

Recipe and photo from BRUCE MOFFETT COOKS: A NEW ENGLAND CHEF IN A NEW SOUTH KITCHEN. Text and photographs copyright © 2019 by Bruce Moffett. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.

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