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Leek and Apple Soup with St Andre and Sweet Potato

Mary Anne here. We really are cooking in these parts, although you’d never know it by the pitifully few posts making it to our beloved blog. It seems that I’m long on inspiration but short on time when it comes to formally writing my latest creations. Hurricanes and snow storms only serve to slow my snail-like pace as we’ve been losing electricity and internet far too often.

This soup is worth the wait though, and if you’re looking for a memorable starter to your Thanksgiving feast – look no further! What was originally conceived as a veggie side dish served over quinoa, later transformed into a pureed potage of savory leeks coupled with crisp, sweet apples.

Always in search of nutritious meals for Mariel, I had created a sauté of the aforementioned fruit and veggie, garnished with a duxelles of mushrooms and crisped turkey bacon, then spooned over protein-perfect quinoa. We liked the flavors but…eh…the texture was lacking and it wasn’t particularly appealing to the eye.

It took me a split-second to realize that pureeing the leeks and apples with hot stock and adding sweet potatoes and St. Andre cheese would transform this into an autumnal star. It did all that and more since it grows more beautiful with age as the flavors deepen and the apples make their presence known. In fact, Mariel says it now makes her list of Top 10 Most Requested Turkey-Day Dishes! The photo just doesn’t do this brew justice.

Leek and Apple Soup
Serves 6 as an Entree
Makes 3 ½ quarts

4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided – stock
2 Tablespoons butter – stock
3 Gala or sweet apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½ inch dice – $1.89
1 sweet potato (about 1 lb.), peeled, diced and boiled until soft, about 10-12 minutes -$1.28
3 leeks (about 1¼ lbs.), split lengthwise; rinsed thoroughly and cut into ¼ inch slice – $3.49
1 Teaspoon nutmeg – stock
½ Teaspoon cinnamon
3 ½ oz. Shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced – $2.99
½ lb. baby Portobella or domestic mushrooms, sliced – $1.99
1 large shallot, finely diced –$0.48
¼ cup cooking sherry – stock
¼ lb. St. Andre or Brie cheese, rind removed and diced – $2.05
8 cups vegetable stock – $5.00
Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry: $19.17
Total Per Serving: $3.20

1. Over medium-high flame, heat 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and all of the butter in a large stock pot. Add the leeks, apples, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Sauté the mixture, stirring frequently until softened, about 12 to 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the shallot and mushrooms over medium-high flame until golden, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the sherry and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the flame and set aside, reserving for the garnish.

4. Add the boiled, diced sweet potatoes and vegetable stock to the leek and apple mixture. Bring to a boil and then reduce the flame. Simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor. (You will need to do this in batches.) Puree until smooth.

6. Return the pureed soup to the stockpot. Add the cheese and reheat over medium-low flame until the cheese is melted and the soup is heated through. Serve hot, garnished with the sautéed mushroom and shallot mixture.