Tomorrow, Oct. 20, is Caramel Apple Day. (Some day I’d like to meet the people who come up with these things.)
Anyway, while I can imagine many variations on the caramel apple theme in dessert recipes, a caramelized apple soup?
The improbable combination was dreamed up by Alexis Sicklick, who is currently sous chef at the restaurant Balaboosta in TriBeCa and recently had a cookbook published. She also maintains the food blog Syncopated. It is there that she shared her recipe for caramelized apple soup, which we at AppleEats have been given permission to reprint.
In her blog entry for the curious-sounding dish, she chronicles the genesis of the soup:
Almost every year, the first fall soup I make is butternut squash and apple soup, and every year, I know something is just not right about it. The soup is certainly delicious and comforting, but I always feel as if a flavor is missing — I finally realized what it is…the apple! Butternut squash has such powerful taste notes that while the apple helps to add some acidity and depth, it can never really shine in this fashion. As we know from my post about apple butter, I have a tremendous fondness for the caramelized apple, and that is what I want to come through. So I basically turned the apple butter into a soup and voilà – I had my desired flavor profile, and it was even more incredible than I imagined.
Okay, you might be thinking I took the apple butter and just added water; while that does seem like a simple way to make caramelized apple soup, it is not that easy. Though it is not much more difficult either! With not too many ingredients — white onions, apples, a little bit of oil, some white wine, water, thyme, oregano, a cinnamon stick, star anise, salt, cheddar, and hazelnuts — you can create the most decadent, velvety fall soup that will become your specialty of the season!
It occurred to me that this would also be a terrific dish for a Halloween party. Here without further ado is the recipe.
Caramelized Apple Soup
- 2 white onions
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 6 apples, any variety or a mix
- 1 cup white wine
- ½ bunch fresh thyme
- ½ bunch fresh oregano
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 4 star anise
- 1 cup hazelnuts, shelled and toasted
- 8 oz. cheddar cheese
- Slice the onions 1/8 inch thick. Cover the bottom of a wide soup pot with a thin layer of oil and caramelize the onions over low heat.
- Peel and rough chop the apples into medium pieces. Once the onions are golden, add the apples and cook until they also turn golden brown and begin to break down, but not so much that they lose their moisture and body. (The starch released by the apples will give the soup a velvety allure.) You can increase the heat a bit, but do not raise it much higher than medium. Stir often to prevent the apples from sticking.
- Once the apples soften and turn deep brown, deglaze the pot with white wine and reduce just a little. Add water to cover.
- Add the herbs and spices tied in cheesecloth with twine for quick removal later. Add a pinch or two of salt. Let everything simmer together for about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as needed. Feel free to add in some ground cinnamon or grated star anise if desired.
- Using an immersion or stand blender, blend until the soup is smooth and velvety.
- Cut the hazelnuts in half and toast them for about 10 minutes — until they become amber in appearance.
- Grate the cheese using the large holes on a box grater.
- Set your oven to broil.
- Place 8 ovenproof bowls on a sheet pan. Divide the soup evenly among these and top each with about 1/3 cup of cheese. Broil until the cheese is completely melted and turns golden brown.
- Garnish with hazelnuts before serving.
Yield: 8 servings