Few foods are able to offer the incredible taste that caramelized onions lend to soups and stews. Redolent and full of flavor, caramelized onions can be added to soups at the beginning of the cooking process or used at the end as a garnish. They are also great for adding interest and flavor to dishes with meats or fish and also for topping hot sandwiches and making gravies.
The reason caramelized onions are so rich with flavor is the heating process breaks down the sugars in the onions slowly transforming them into an aromatic delight. Some varieties of onions will caramelize faster than others including sweet types such as Vidalia or Walla Walla onions but you can use any kind you prefer except green. You can even make caramelized shallots and the white portion of leeks.
To make caramelized onions you will first need to cut the raw onions into crescent shaped pieces. Try to cut them all into roughly the same size to ensure even cooking times. You can use small amounts of butter, margarine, or cooking oil with a pinch of salt heated over medium to high heat. After the oil or butter is hot add the onion slices, coat them well, and stir occasionally to allow them to brown evenly.
If the onions start to stick to the bottom of the skillet or pan you can add a teaspoon or two of water and stir vigorously to mix well. Lower the heat slightly and continue to stir often until the onions reach the desired color and texture then use them in a number of recipes and dishes.