Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Soupe Normande

At my last place of employment I was in charge of a myriad of daily tasks, one of them being to make and create soups to be served downstairs in the café. I would either take stock of what was in the walk-in or, if something new came in from one of the vendors and I liked it, I'd ask Chef to order a larger quantity the next week.

I regret not keeping better track of the things that I personally came up with, or even the things I put a successful rift on, but this one has stayed with me over the years. And I think.. I may have even perfected it this past time I made it for the fambam.

The idea behind it is a classic french style of cooking in the Normandy region, involving the use of butter, cream and apples. Pork is a popular pairing when thinking of cooking “À la normande”.

I remember we had an abundance of Black Forest Ham so I got my hands on some apples and onions and did it up.

Soup Normande:

3 T. Butter
1 slab Ham Steak (pork or turkey) – small diced (about 2 c.)
2 lg Yellow Onions – diced
2 Shallots - sliced
4 Gala (or Golden Delicious) Apples – peeled, cored & diced
2 md Yukon Potatoes – peeled & diced 1”
1 c. Apple Cider
5-6 c. Vegetable or Pork Stock (reserve a cup)
½ c. Heavy Creme (or alt crème fraiche)
White Pepper & Salt (TT)
Gruyère, grated for topping

* If your ham is uncooked (which mine usually is), fry it til browned in 1T. Butter. If it's just deli meat, you can skip this step.
* In a large soup pot sauté onions, shallots and apples in 2T. butter for 10 minutes. Add the diced potatoes to the pot along with the cider and stock. Bring to a simmer and continue that way for about 20 minutes.
* Bring the pot off the heat and with an immersion blender (aka “stick” blender), purée the soup until smooth. (Add more stock at this point to adjust the consistency to your liking).
* Return pot to low heat and add in the diced ham and creme. Bring to a simmer, season and then serve topped off with grated cheese.

Serves 6-8

Everything diced for mise en place
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Galas are one of my favorite apples. I love their taste and texture raw and always have them on-hand so I use them often in cooking. They are a New Zealand hybrid of a Golden Delicious and Kidd's Orange. Golden Delicious are some of the most versatile apples but I think Gala's are crisper and I just prefer that.

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Finishing with creme
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I will always remember my Classical French Chef having a conniption fit over some kid who used ground black pepper in a sauce. I made it my business to have a natural preference for white pepper from that point on..
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Food Lover's Companion, Third Edition, pg. 417
Culinary Fundamentals, Johnson & Wales University, pg. 349