Vegetable Highlight: Onions

By: Emma Vanderkolk, College Farm Intern

I hope that everyone loves onions because we have had our best onion harvest since beginning the farm! We grow four different types of onions on the farm and they all have slightly different qualities than the others. Onions are part of the allium family of vegetables and herbs, which also includes chives, garlic, scallions and leeks. The different types of onions we grow are divided into two categories: storage and sweet. The sweet onions are yellow and have a balance between their astringency and sweetness. Sweet onions are best used in soups or for caramelizing. It is best to use these onions when you first get them because they have a shorter shelf life. Storage onions, will keep for up to 6 months if stored properly. The best way to store onions is to place them in mesh bags, bushel baskets, or a flat cardboard box with some holes punched in it. Make sure to keep the onions cool, inside would be best as they prefer 45 to 60 degrees. Being inside is also helpful to the onions because they should be kept away from light, the less light the better. Storage onions are red or yellow, the yellow being what keeps the longest. White onions also have an okay storage life, but it is shorter than the other storage onions.

French Onion Soup: serves 4


½ cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups sliced onions

4 (10.5 ounce) cans beef broth

2 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

4 slices French bread

4 slices provolone cheese

2 slices swiss cheese, diced

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Melt butter with oil in an 8 quart stock pot on medium heat. Add onions and continually stir until tender and translucent. Do not brown the onions.
  2. Add beef broth, sherry and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the oven broiler
  4. Ladle soup into oven safe serving bowls and place on slice of bread on top of each (bread may be broken into pieces if you prefer). Layer each slice of bread with a slice of provolone, ½ slice diced swiss and 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese. Place bowls on cookie sheet and broil in the preheated oven until cheese bubbles and browns slightly.

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