Summary: On days when a comfort dinner is needed or simply desired, soup often fits the bill. It warms us when we're cold, soothes us when we're sick. It just feels good going down. I've been on a potato tear lately, craving them all the time and in every which way: mashed, roasted...you get my drift. Next step: soup!
I wanted it to have a slight kick, the kind that makes you wonder, “hmm…what is that quiet fire in there?” and as I had fresh Hatch and ancho chiles on hand, I was in good stead. I also wanted to incorporate cheese and the fresh crème fraîche I'd just purchased at the farmers market.
This soup took some tweaking: more cheddar than I anticipated as Gruyere alone was just too tame; more crème fraîche; an apple which complemented both the cheddar and the crème fraîche.
Ultimately, it was perfect, a definite keeper and make againer. Bacon lovers should feel free to crumble freshly fried bacon over the top. Smoked salmon would be delicious too. Scallions would make a gorgeous garnish and add a fresh zing to each bite. I could also imagine stirring finely chopped kale into the hot soup minutes before serving.
Yield: about 10 cups.
- 1 pod of garlic (one whole bulb), left intact though slice off just a bit at the top and remove any superfluous papery skin
- 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 fresh Hatch chile (or a chile of similar heat)
- 1 fresh ancho chile (or a chile of similar heat))
- 3 pounds Russet potatoes, washed, peeled and chopped into 1" cubes or half-moons
- 4 cups chicken stock, or veggie stock
- 4 cups water
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 small-medium Gala apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 1/4 cup grated Gruyere
- 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Preheat the oven to 375. Place the garlic pod in a small, oven-safe bowl (a Pyrex ramekin works well), drizzle it with the olive oil, cover tightly with foil and when the oven is heated, roast the garlic for 25 minutes. When it's done, let it cool just until you can handle it, slip the roasted cloves from their skins and discard the skin and root ball. Set the roasted cloves aside.
Over a hot grill, or over the flame of a gas burner, roast the chiles until their skins have blackened pretty completely and started to bubble. Remove them from heat, seal them inside a Ziploc and let them sweat for a few minutes. Rub their skins off, remove their stems and seeds and set aside.
Meanwhile, if you haven't already, prepare your potatoes by washing, peeling and chopping them evenly. In a large soup pot, pour the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Add the kosher salt, the prepped potatoes, the thyme sprigs and the reserved garlic pods. Let return to a boil.
If you've removed the soup from heat, put it back over heat. If not, just continue your soup-making by adding all remaining ingredients, stirring to combine everything and melt the cheeses.
Taste and reseason with anything you want more of: more ancho chile, buttermilk, nutmeg, salt, cheese....You get my drift. Serve with good, whole grain bread and enjoy!