If you haven’t seen The Hobbit yet… well. What are you waiting for?! If you have, or have any familiarity with Tolkien’s books, you probably know that Hobbits hold the culinary arts in high regard. This soup is a flavor blend I got the itch to experiment with a couple months ago, googled around and found a recipe for here, then had the renewed urge to try after seeing the film, but didn’t get around to making until today. All of the ingredients, I feel, would be the sorts of things easily found in Tolkien’s Shire–I couldn’t help but glance twice at the contents of Bilbo Baggins’ pantry in the movie, after all. Potato soup, of course, is a firm staple in the realm of comfort food (for me, at least). This recipe, however, dresses it up and gives it a rather classy twist, perfect for entertaining a crowded table on a cold winter night.
1 tsp olive oil
2 slices extra-thick bacon, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 red apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 large thin-skinned white potatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt
5 cups water
2 cups apple juice (or cider)
bundle of chives (?? see picture at right), chopped
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup cream
~3 oz. blue cheese (I used gorgonzola), crumbled
dash of cinnamon
dash of oregano
dash of coriander
dash of white pepper
dash of salt
To start, find a BIG pot. There’s a lot going into it, so 6-8 quart size at least. Dribble a little olive oil in the bottom, put it over medium-high heat, and start the bacon browning, stirring frequently. When it’s cooked through, add the onions, apples, and garlic. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly. The onion should be soft and caramelizing. Add the wine, turn the heat back up to medium, and stir for three or four minutes as it evaporates.
Add the potatoes, salt, and water, stir well, and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. The potatoes should be soft and mashable by the time you add the chives at the end of this stage.
In a separate saucepan, boil the apple juice/cider over high heat until it has reduced to about 1/2 cup of liquid (approximately 15-20 minutes).
Finally, add the milk and cream, reduced apple juice, and crumbled blue cheese. Stir well, to ensure the cheese melts and disperses more or less evenly. Add assorted spices (with a light hand), salt, and pepper to taste.
The finished product is a chunky, hearty potato-onion stew, with faint overtones of blue cheese and a hint of sweetness from the apples. It’s perfect for warming you up on a bitterly cold, gray winter day.
Serves 4-6? Probably with generous leftovers. Call some friends.