There are things we think y'all are likely do, so we share them, and then there are the things that maybe no one but us would be crazy enough to try. So, do you have access to a smoker? If you do, you can coax all the flavor you crave out of it. I mean, so many soups, beans, and the like get most of their flavor from smoked ham or bacon. Most of that flavor comes from the smoke. Our solution is to hickory-smoke onions and add them to greens, black-eyed peas, chili, soups, broths, sandwiches -- anything, really. The result is a robust, deep, flavor that you don't usually find in plant-based dishes. It's a simple solution with a ton of mileage. Try the method details in the recipe below or use our Quick Smoking Method that we detail in our book, The Southern Vegetarian: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table (Thomas Nelson, 2013).
Once you have your onions smoked, just use them in place of your regular old onions in any recipe and wait for the compliments to roll in. (You deserve all the credit!)
Hickory Smoked Onions
Special equipment: electric smoker (like a Smokin' It #2)
4 medium sweet onions (like Spanish or viadallia)
2 cups hickory chunks
Load the smoke box with hickory chunks and set the smoker to 200 degrees. Peel the onions and cut off the root and top. Place on a foil-lined rack and into the smoker. Allow the onions to smoke for 20 minutes. Remove the onions from the smoker and place them in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. They will keep for 1 week. Dice and freeze unused portion for a longer shelf-life.