I'm well aware that my family did not invent the concept of stirring a packet of Lipton onion soup mix into a container of sour cream (the "recipe" is right there, printed on every box). But that doesn't change the fact that all of my sister's friends refer to the party staple as Sevier Dip. The all-purpose concoction is undeniably moreish and the requisite-titular, even-counterpart in chips ân dip. Got a platter of less-than-stellar crudités? Onion dip ups the ante in seconds (although it's really better if you grant yourself the patience to refrigerate it overnight after mixing).
But relying on that little packet, satisfying as it is, does have a few drawbacks. Namely, you can't control the ingredients. Gluten-free? Lipton isn't. Reducing your salt or sugar intake? Double-check that label. There are other ways to make French onion dip, of course: If you have the time, you could make real caramelized onions and stir those into a bit of dairy. Or, if you have considerably less time, you could do what Heidi Swanson does. In her new cookbook, Super Natural Simple, Swanson stirs together a blend of dried minced onions, onion and garlic powders, dried chives, and sea salt.
She calls the mix French Onion Salt and deploys it first in a dead-simple breakfast strata recipe. Then she suggests sprinkling the mix over milk-washed biscuits before baking, or using it to top off a roasted sweet potato. I recently added about 1 tablespoon of the mix to the dough for savory hand pies that I then took along on a camping trip. Delicious.
You can also whip French Onion Salt with butter into a savory breakfast spread for English muffins, sprinkle it over a giant grilled pork chop for two, or (generously) dust a soft-boiled egg to start your day-or re-energize it!
Swanson's recipe isn't an exact dupe for Lipton, but Â½ cup of her French Onion Salt can be used as a substitute for a 1-ounce packet of dehydrated French onion soup mix. I made batches of dip with each to compare, purely for editorial reasons. Sour cream dip made with Lipton's mix had richer, darker flavor. The one made with Swanson's mix was brighter, and somehow more elegant. If Lipton's dip was a robust winter onion, Swanson's was a lithe spring onion. I could eat a whole batch of either in a single sitting. If you want to make a version with Swanson's homemade mix that's closer to the Lipton standard, add a few dashes of Worcestershire or soy sauce when stirring everything together (the Lipton packet contains soy sauce powder).
Or, if you want to go your own way, Swanson also suggests swapping out the dried chives for any other dried herb you love. Go thyme for an even more French feel or dried mint for something a little more zingy. Dill? Cilantro? Besobela? Really, whatever you like.
Though I could go on about onion dip, there is one other thing I can't forget to mention: don't sleep on Swanson's breakfast strata. The aromatic and unabashedly oniony dried mix does magical things to a pile of bread tossed with eggs and cheese-as if that triumvirate wasn't already magical enough all on its own.