For September, we are showcasing one of the humblest staples in the kitchen pantry: the onion. It is the bedrock of flavor used in all kinds of cuisines and cooking styles, whether you are a vegetarian or not. Served raw, pickled, sautéed, roasted, caramelized, or cooked in soup, it is regularly called for in recipes but rarely considered a vegetable in its own right. Onion belongs to the same allium family of vegetables as garlic and leeks, two well-known flavoring ingredients.
Onions are high in the phytonutrient quercetin, which is also found in apples. Quercetin acts as an antioxidant; however, the antioxidant effect appears to be stronger when the quercetin is obtained through eating onion instead of taking a supplement that contains only quercetin. Population-based studies have documented lower rates of heart disease, lung cancer, and asthma among those who regularly consume quercetin-rich foods. Another defining characteristic of allium vegetables such as onion is that they are rich in sulfur-containing compounds, the source of their defining pungent odor. Sulfur- containing compounds have anti-inflammatory effects. High levels of onion consumption have also been linked to better bone density and may be beneficial in maintaining the overall health of our connective tissue.
Nutrition Tidbits for Onions:
1/2 cup of chopped raw onion contains:
There are many different types of onions on the market, and some varieties have additional phytonutrients - for example, red onion also contains the phytonutrient anthocyanin. Regardless of the type and size, choose firm, well-shaped bulbs that have not sprouted at the tip, and check to make sure there are no soft spots or mold. Onions should be kept in a dry, well-ventilated area of the pantry away from heat, light, and excess moisture.
Slow Cooker French Onion Soup
Makes 14 Servings
For 2 Servings:
When ready to enjoy your French Onion Soup: