A Sweet Recipe for Vidalia Onions

(Photos courtesy of the Hermitage Hotel)

Nothing says springtime in Georgia, or in your frying pan, like a fresh Vidalia onion. The 2014 Vidalia season officially opened April 21, when the state’s growers began shipping the first batches of the sweet bulbs to eager retailers. Which means they should be showing up in stores around the country any day now.

There are all kinds of ways to use them, of course, from a seasonal salad to homemade onion rings. But it’s hard to beat a classic sweet onion bisque, and nobody does it better than Chef Tyler Brown of the Capitol Grille in Nashville’s historic Hermitage Hotel. Silky smooth and more than a little decadent, the bisque has been served at the hotel in one variation or another since it opened in 1910 and remains one of the restaurant’s signature dishes.

The chef likes to gussy it up with a little crumbled bacon and chopped chives, and it pairs wonderfully with a Brie grilled cheese. Best of all it’s simple to make, and a perfect way to welcome spring in Southern style.

Sweet Onion Bisque
(yield: 6 servings)

4 sweet onions, diced in large chunks
5 tbsp. whole butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and white pepper, to taste
As desired:
smoked bacon
Brie grilled cheese sandwich

Simmer onions in butter over very low heat for at least five hours (yes, five hours). Add to a blender, and puree until smooth; add heavy cream to taste. Season with salt and white pepper. If desired, garnish bowl with smoked bacon, chives, and triangles of Brie grilled cheese sandwich.