Viva Texas Sweet Onions & French Onion Soup

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Onion Fest in Weslaco, Texas, celebrates the development of the famous Texas 1015 Onion.

Grown only in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas, the Texas Sweet 1015, pronounced ten-fifteen, is named for its October 15 best planting date. Sweet and mild due to its low sulfur but high water and sugar content, this Texas Sweet Onion is virtually tearless.

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When slicing the 1015, there is no need to light a candle, wear goggles, open a window, or hold the onion under running water. Unlike a typical onion, when peeled or chopped, the 1015 releases less sulphur compound into the air. This means there are much smaller amounts of the gaseous compound to combine with the water in our eyes to produce sulphuric acid, and pain.

Mariachi bands, horses, dancers, and magicians entertain annually at Weslaco’s Onion Fest. Food vendors offer curly fries, giant corn dogs, funnel cakes, cowboy nachos, ribbon fries, beef brisket, smoked turkey legs, and mini donuts. South Texas College culinary students demonstrate their skills with tasty onion tarts, moist onion breads, and thick onion marmalade. Food vendors transforming sweet Texas 1015 Onions into deep-fried flower blossoms always capture everyone’s attention. The performance begins with the onions being peeled, and then cut, to spread the tight ball of onion into the shape of a blossoming flower. The onion flower is dipped into a mixture of egg and milk, shaken, then drenched with a combination of flour and secret seasonings.

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Floating to the surface in peanut oil-filled deep fryers, the onions take on the appearance of oversized servings of calamari. As soon as the onion flowers reach a golden-brown they are scooped out of the oil, drained, and tipped on to a paper plate. They look like blossoms once again, with petals ready for plucking. In an instant, while the blossom is still hot, the core of the onion is removed and a container of dip takes its place.

Here’s our easy and delicious version of French onion soup. Bon appétit!

FRENCH ONION SOUP (Makes 4 to 5 servings)

3 to 4 large, mild onions, peeled

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

4 cups (1L) beef broth

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup (125 ml) red wine

2 teaspoons (10 ml) Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) black pepper

1 beef bouillon cube


Grated Parmesan cheese or shredded white cheddar

Thinly slice the onions into rings. Cut the rings into quarters.
Pour the olive oil into a large soup pot. Add the onions. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until the onions are tender and translucent.
Combine the beef broth, bay leaf, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper in a bowl. Add the mixture to the onions. Stir well. Bring the soup to a boil.
When the soup is hot, crumble the bouillon cube into the pot. Stir until it is dissolved.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes to blend the flavors.
Remove the bay leaf.
Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Top the hot soup with croutons and cheese.

In 2015, Westlaco’s Onion Fest will be held March 28.


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