Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Soups with Apples, Leeks, Cabbage & Beets

Remember the Chicken with Foraged Apples post from last week?

Well, I have plenty of foraged apples still and though I'm a fan of stewed apples, apple butter, apple crumble, apple pie etc., these are all sweet variations and I love apples in savory dishes.

Do you also remember I talked about making stock from the chicken bones I froze with the intention of making soup?

Well, I didn't make chicken stock, but I did make several soups, and I used some of those foraged apples.

In the pic above you can see the ingredients I used in one of my soups. The apples, leeks, and cabbage also featured in the Chicken with Foraged Apples I link to at the top so in effect, soup could easily be made with leftovers from that casserole.

Simply add water to the leftovers and simmer the contents in a pot for about 30 mins and then run the lot through a blender.

I chose to add a large beetroot to the above mix. I love the combination of apple and beetroot, and the addition of leeks and cabbage make this quite a hearty soup that can be eaten chunky or blended to a smooth consistency.

Because it cooks into a lovely purplish-red color, a la Borscht, topping it with a spoon of sour cream or yogurt is a natural. The sourness of the cream or yogurt compliments the sweetness of the apple and beet. Adding a sprinkle of chopped dill is optional, but if you do have some dill it's a delicious compliment.

Using chicken stock as a base will certainly add richness to the soup, but you don't have to use stock, you can simply use water -- the flavor will still be full and delicious.

If you're not a big fan of beetroot and cabbage, you might like to try the combination of soup ingredients to the left: apples, leeks, celery and rutabaga, which is a cross between a turnip and cabbage.

Celery can be bitter, but add apples to celery and you have sweet plus slight bitterness -- a great combination.

Obviously a soup just of celery and apples is lacking so the addition of the leeks and rutabaga adds an earthiness to the sweet/bitter. I also added a sprig of rosemary to this combination which added a delicious fragrant note.

If you choose to blend the ingredients, take the rosemary sprig out. You may find you'll need to strain the blended liquid because of the copious celery fiber.

The resulting soup is thick, and it's a subtle green. Salt and pepper it to your liking, and finish it with a spoon of (real) whipped cream or a drizzle of half and half and some chopped parsley.

Perhaps you don't fancy the idea of apples in your soup. If not, the combination of green, purple, and red-root vegetables (pic to left) creates a spectacularly colorful and hearty, stew-like soup.

So that's purple cabbage, celery, leeks, beetroot and rutabaga. I cooked this combination of veggies with some leftover beef ribs which I'd bought home in a doggy bag from a recent dinner out.

It was more convenient for me to just pop the leftover beef ribs into the pot with the veggies and water than make a beef stock from scratch. And the meat from the leftover ribs came off the bone and became an additional ingredient in the soup, adding richness and flavor to the veggie combination.

I also added a couple dried bay leaves and a few whole peppercorns. Though don't dash out and buy these two ingredients; they're optional. You could add thyme if you have it. Fresh or dried herbs add a subtle flavor, however, salting and peppering before serving is often enough to enhance the natural flavors inherent in soup.

Serve this soup chunky rather than blended, since blended meat is often unappetizing in appearance. And because this one is sans apple, you may consider making apple and corn bread to serve as an accompaniment.


Anonymous said...

Hey Louise,
Besides forged apples what is the best kind to cook with for soup?

Louise Ross said...

Hi Patty,
Thanks for your comment. Do you mean foraged apples? I think you do, since there isn't a "forged" variety of apples.

Anyway, for soups I'd feel comfortable using just about any variety of apple. Obviously the more tart the apple, like Granny Smiths, the more likely it is to impart a slight tartness to the soup, which is fine if you prefer less sweet flavor in your soup.

If your up for it, experiment! Make one of the soups posted with several different kinds of apples and see which apple flavor you prefer.