Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Apple-Potato Soup with Chicken-Apple Sausage and Parmesan Crumble

Apple-Potato Soup with Chicken-Apple Sausage and Parmesan Crumble

Apples and cheese make a great pair. If I'm in the mood for a light dinner, a sliced apple, a sharp cheese and a glass of wine--a bold white, like a chardonnay--makes a great meal. My dad always liked to eat apple pie with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese, and apple pie with cheese baked into the crust is good too.

That combination is the inspiration behind this apple soup, which gets a topping of what I'm calling "parmesan crumble," which is just crumbled frico, a homemade parmesan cracker.

Apples are commonly found in desserts and salads, but I love to find ways to work them into a main course. Soup is a perfect vehicle for apples, their tart sweetness makes a good counterpoint to something more savory, in this case potatoes and cheese.

Although already fully cooked, a I recommend browning the apple-chicken sausage in a frying pan to reheat it and add additional flavor.

Apples wend their way into this dish in two ways. The body of the soup contains Granny Smith apples, that common, very tart apple that works well in savory dishes like this. The chicken sausage also contains apple.

Frico, homemade parmesan crackers, give the soup a crunchy cheese topping.

Apple-Potato Soup with Chicken-Apple Sausage and Parmesan Crumble

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 sweet onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large or 3 medium-size Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (at least 2 pinches)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
12 oz. chicken-apples sausage, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds

Parmesan crumble:
1 oz. shredded parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 tsp. flour
Fresh-ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat a Dutch oven or other large pot for soup over medium heat. Melt the butter, then add the onion, celery and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the potato, stir to combine and cook another 5 minutes. Stir in the apple and sage and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook another 5 minutes, then add the chicken broth and water. Increase heat and bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low to simmer for about 40-45 minutes until the potato and apple have softened.

2. While the soup simmers, make the parmesan crumble. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place a nonstick liner (like a Silpat) on a baking sheet. Combine cheese, flour and pepper and spoon onto the baking sheet into three evenly spaced mounds. Use a spatula or the back of the spoon to flatten the mounds into rounds of even thickness about 4 inches in diameter. Bake until golden, about 8-11 minutes. Allow to cool for a couple minutes and then very carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (be careful, they break really easily). Once cooled, crumble by hand into smaller pieces.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth (alternatively, transfer in batches to a blender to puree).

4. Heat sausage in a medium frying pan over medium heat until lightly browned. Add to the soup and stir to combine. Taste the soup and adjust salt, pepper and nutmeg as desired. Serve soup in shallow bowls topped with a sprinkle of parmesan crumble.

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