Step 5: Sweat the Garlic and Onion
The first thing to do is prepare the onion. But, before we get started with that, if your eyes are particularly sensitive to the chemicals in onions that make your eyes tear up, I recommend picking up some Onion Goggles. My eyes are extremely sensitive to onions, to the point that I can't even be in the same room as someone dicing onions, but the Onion Goggles work very very well for me and they certainly make cooking with onions much easier, safer, and more enjoyable. Anyway, the first thing to do is cut the ends off the onion. Then, peel off the papery outer layer. Unlike the skins of our fingerling potatoes, the outer skin on onions has no nutritional value at all.
With the onion peeled, it is time to break out our knife again. First cut the onion in half. Stick one half into a bag and put it away for use in another recipe, or the next time you make this soup, and focus your attention on the remaining half. If you own one of those slam-choppers, they probably work quite well for dicing onions. But if you don't have one of those (I don't) use your knife to dice the onion into moderately small pieces. If you feel somewhat confident with your knife skills, there is a technique you can use to make very quick work of dicing an onion. Check out this video to learn it. Otherwise, just chop of the onion using whatever knife-wielding technique you like.
Next, put the diced onion,along with the garlic puree (2 tsp) into a frying pan or the pot you are going to cook your soup in later and sweat them until they are soft and translucent. If you are not familiar with sweating onions, it is very easy. Just put the diced onions into your cooking vessel over medium-low heat and cover them. Stir them around occasionally until the pieces are soft and translucent.