Bringing Italy Home with "The Elixir of Life" Print
Written by Ann Shepphird   

The Elixir of LifeHappy New Year! I don't know if any of you made resolutions but I just have one: to travel to Italy. It's something I've wanted to do since I took Italian in college at UCLA more than 20 years ago but have somehow never made it. Naturally one of the biggest reasons I'd like to go is the country's great farm-to-table tradition, which is celebated in a great new cookbook called "The Elixir of Life" by Lisa Dahl. Dahl is executive sous-chef and co-owner of Cucina Rustica and Dahl & DiLuca Ristorante Italiano in Sedona, Arizona, and her travels through Tuscany are the inspiration for the book.

Here is just one of the wonderful recipes found in "The Elixir of Life": carmelized onion and garlic soup. Not only is it particularly appropriate for this winter season but the recipe focuses more on getting the most flavor out of the onions and garlic instead of covering it up with a lot of cheese or bread (not that there is ever anything wrong with cheese or bread!). As Dahl says in the book, "A sprinkle of good Parmesan cheese and a handful of croutons can add a nice touch but try it by itself first as pure elixir." Enjoy!

Carmelized Onion and Garlic Soup

by Lisa Dahl

IngredientsElixir Onion Garlic Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 to 10 garlic cloves
2 pounds yellow onions
3/4 cup dry sherry
8 cups chicken broth
4 cups beef broth
3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Lightly oil the garlic cloves and place them in a sheet of foil. Form the foil into a packet and roast the packet in a 350-degree oven until the cloves are completely soft, approximately 25 minutes

Peel the onions and slice them into quarter-inch rings (do not separate the rings). Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Add the sliced onions to the pot and saute slowly and thoroughly until they are browned and caramelized.

Pour sherry over the onions and cook until the sherry is almost completely absorbed and reduced. Add chicken and beef broth and bring onions to a boil. Add roasted garlic cloves, fresh thyme sprigs and black pepper. Lower heat to a simmer and cook gently while you make the roux.

In a small pan melt the butter and whisk in the flour until it is incorporated. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes to cook out the flour taste. Whisk the roux into the simmering soup and stir continuously until the soup thickens slightly. Remove thyme stems. Bring the soup together by pulsing it with a hand-held immersion blender or in the bowl of a food processor. Be careful not to overpuree. Check seasonings and add parsley before serving.

Makes approximately 3 quarts.