One of the best things about eating out is being inspired by some dish I’ve tried. I find myself in bed that night starting to create my own riff, ideas ricocheting like popcorn inside my head as I toy with flavor combinations and preparation methods; all the while intermittently glancing at the clock, aware that I really do need to get to sleep.
I’ve had this soup knocking around in my head for awhile now. It started with a visit last fall to California Vegetable Specialties where most of the endive eaten in this country is grown. I learned about the unusual method of growing endive, which I’ve written about, including a peek into a growing room with endive trays stacked at least 50 feet high. All this was followed by a multi-course endive-centric lunch. The entire meal was terrific, but as a soup person, I really fell for the endive soup; and ever since, have had endive soup on the brain.
I’ve made this soup a few times, never the same way twice. God forbid. But this latest version may be the one I stick with from here out; it’s that good. And surprising too, with its hints of apple and blue cheese, which are perfectly in balance with the endive.
A Few Cooking Notes:
Because of the way that endive is grown, it is never necessary to wash it before preparation or eating.
This soup can be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon, but it does add a certain depth to the flavors.
Endive and Apple Soup
- 3 slices bacon sliced into thin lardons
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 6 heads of endive, thinly sliced horizontally (about 3 cups)
- 4 leeks, thinly sliced horizontally (about 2 cups)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2/3 cup apple cider
- 2 apples, cored, and chopped
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt, to taste
- ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons blue cheese, to taste
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- fresh thyme for garnish
In a heavy soup pot over medium heat, fry the bacon lardons until crispy. Remove and set aside.
Add the butter to the bacon grease and melt. Add the onions, leeks and endive and sauté until soft. Add the vegetable broth, apple cider, apples, thyme, salt and pepper; simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the balsamic vinegar and blue cheese. Remove from heat and stir in the cream, and correct for seasoning.
Serve with a hunk of bread and a salad for a filling meal.