Onion-Coconut Milk Soup–A Brunch Pleaser

       Once again we have a recipe that comes from the French culinary magazine “Cuisine et Vins de France.”  I’ve had a subscription for years and love leafing through back issues looking for amusing things to cook. 
                This one came from the November 2011 issue.  I was doing a brunch menu for our church Weekday Gourmet connection group and wanted something a little different to start.  For brunch menus, I like a soup that you can serve in cups or mugs and this fills the bill. Soups with chunks of most anything in them are a little difficult to sip gracefully. 
                I made a few changes–I’m sure you’re not surprised.  The biggest one was to replace minced fresh lemongrass with the lemongrass paste from the produce section of most supermarkets.  We’ve used it and the ginger paste in several recipes before.  Lemongrass is a bit fibrous, so you have to get down to the softer part and mince really finely if you’re using fresh. The nice paste-makers have done that for us.  It’s also hard to find outside oriental markets, but if you want to use fresh lemongrass, substitute three stalks.
                I also changed to 2% milk instead of whole.  Coconut milk is rather high in fat, so it’s still plenty rich tasting. If you’d like to cut the fat even further, you may substitute light coconut milk instead, and use 1% milk.  The trick of simmering the onions instead of sautéing them in lots of oil also cuts down a bit on the fat.

         I know this seems like a lot of onion, but in our group we had one member who doesn’t care for onions and she was quite happy with it. We had another who claims to hate coconut, and she loved it.  You just never know, do you?               

Creamy Onion-Coconut Soup

1 ½ lbs. onions, peeled and chopped
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
¼ cup water
4 tablespoons lemongrass paste
1 cup coconut milk
3 cups 2% milk
Two limes

                In a Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, stir to coat with oil and cook about two minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add the water. Cover, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
                Stir in the lemongrass paste and cook a couple of minutes, stirring.  Add the coconut milk and 2% milk.  Bring to a slow simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Stir frequently.  In a blender or with a hand blender, purée the soup.  Bring back to a simmer.
                Ladle into soup cups or bowls.  Grate lime zest over each. Cut one of the limes into six wedges to garnish each cup and serve immediately. Serves six.

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