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Thread: Why do you saute onions and garlic first?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Question Why do you saute onions and garlic first?

    Most recipes that contain chopped onion and/or garlic tell you to saute first, then add the other ingredients, whether it's for a soup or stew or whatever. Why is that? When I make spaghetti sauce, for example, I usually just add the chopped garlic to the simmering sauce. Am I doing a bad thing? Would it be better if I sauteed it first? Same with soup. I don't saute the onions before I add the other stuff, I just add the onions along with other raw vegetables to the pot and simmer.

  2. #2
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    Hi JulieM! This is Julie O. Think there's a Julie N.??

    Anyway, it's to caramelize the surface of the garlic and onion. They have a different taste caramelized than when you stick them in the sauce later. I've actually tried both. When you add them to the sauce raw, they continue to have a bit of a raw taste. It's more work, but I would try cooking the garlic and onion first. You might like it!

  3. #3
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    A friend of my mother's used to do that just to keep her DH and kids from pestering her as to when dinner was. As long as they could smell garlic & onion sauteeing, it didn't matter!
    There cannot be a crisis today. My schedule is already full.
    -Henry Kissinger

  4. #4
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    hmmm, I assumed it was to make the house smell delightful.

    nothing better then smelling sauteed garlic, onions and celery!

  5. #5
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    As Julie O. said, sweating, sautéing, or caramelizing changes the flavor significantly (onions are very high in sugar) and converts them to sweet and deep-flavored rather than sharp or raw. It's important in making soup, too, because the onions and garlic (and often a traditional mirepoix) are real building blocks of flavor; it's those "building blocks" that lend a depth of flavor or complexity. So those sautéd onions (or carrots/celery, etc.) will in turn flavor your soup broth. Your other vegetables will take care of "bulk" in addition to flavor. I have to say, though, that I often wait a minute or two to add the garlic because it's so much smaller than the onion dices and if I start them together (if it's a somewhat long sauté) I'm afraid it will brown and become bitter.
    Hope that helps a little.

  6. #6
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    I do it with the onions 'cause I can't stand raw, crunchy onions in my food. Garlic isn't a problem because it's small and cooks faster, and I like it crunchy.
    Just another Susan

    "Peggy, here I am tryin' to contain an outbreak, and you're drivin' the monkey to the airport!" Hank Hill

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  7. #7
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    Well, I knew there must be a good reason, I just didn't know what it was! Maybe that's why I'm often not happy with my soup broth. Thanks everyone for the info. I knew you would know the answer.

  8. #8
    i do not care for raw onions, so i always try to sautee the onions & garlic first! it gets all soft & mellow & fragrant. makes the house smell so good!

    i think a lot of recipes call to do it first so there isnt such a sharp/strong onion & garlic flavor so it doesnt dominate the dish and instead just accent it.

    like canice said- it does change the flavor, for the better IMO.

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