Saturday, September 29, 2012

Apple-Fennel Soup with Beans and Sausage

I find a lot of inspiration in the work of professional chefs, even if I haven't tasted their work. This is a prime example.

I clicked on this item about him from Eater DC which led me to this Washingtonian story about Chef Devin Bozkaya's (successful) audition to become the new executive chef at West End Bistro by Eric Ripert. In the story, he talks about food he's planning for the restaurant, including an apple soup with pork sausage and sage. I thought that sounded like a marvelous idea and wanted to try crafting my own version.

I used this Food & Wine recipe for Sweet Potato, Chipotle and Apple Soup as a reference, but the flavors in my soup are very different. Chris and I were very pleased with this. The thick pureed broth of onion, fennel, garlic, ginger, celery, sage and apple is particularly appealing. And despite all those flavors, the apple flavor is noticeable, albeit very subtle. I added the beans to give the soup some additional body and the fennel fronds to add some color, additional fresh fennel flavor and visual appeal. Vegetarians could easily adapt this by using vegetable broth and omitting the sausage (perhaps doubling the beans).

Apple-Fennel Soup with Beans and Sausage

4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/2 fennel bulb, cored and diced, fronds reserved and chopped
1 celery rib, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece of ginger root, minced (about a tablespoon)
2 gala apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 1/2 lb. (about 2 large) russet potatoes, peeled and diced
8-10 sage leaves, minced (about 1 1/2 tbsp.)
Seasoned salt, to taste
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (may substitute vegetable broth)
2 cups water
1/2 lb. mild Italian chicken sausages (may substitute another other Italian sausage; 1/2 lb. is two large sausages in casings)
1 16 oz. can cannellini beans
1 tsp. fresh ground white pepper
1 tbsp. honey

1. Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add diced onion, fennel, celery and garlic, and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add apples, potatoes and sage and sauté another 5 minutes. Season with seasoned salt. Add chicken broth and water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer partly covered for 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

2. In a medium frying pan, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings, add to pan, and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is cooked through and lightly browned. Turn off the heat. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and add the sausage to gently warm.

3. Puree the soup until it is very smooth using an immersion blender or transferring it in batches to a blender or food processor, returning to the pot when done. Stir in cooked sausage, beans, white pepper and honey. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve topped with a sprinkle of chopped fennel fronds.

1 comment:

  1. I thought this was really, really good. Nice work!