Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Eleventh Plague of Egypt Soup

In case you weren't paying attention in Hebrew School, the ten plagues of Egypt were: water turned to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock disease, unhealable boils, hail mixed with fire, locusts, darkness and death of the first-born of all Egyptian families.

This past autumn, my house was visited by a brand new plague – apples. The Haralson trees that were planted as spindly sticks to welcome daughter number one’s arrival from China have grown into rowdy, out-of-control teen trees. This fall, they bore fruit. And bore. And bore.

Of course I made applesauce, but then the freezer filled up, so I made apple butter (more compact). Then I made crisps. Then froze apple slices. Then I began to plead with everyone I knew to “Come visit the Apple Farm!” A couple friends with small children were able to con the tykes into believing they’d gone on a bucolic field trip, all within a fifteen-minute-drive from home. Whee, honey, see how much mommy loves you to take you to this wonderfully pastoral setting? (I love lying to children; it’s so satisfying.)

As the months have worn on, I’ve gifted the apple butter to every poor slob unlucky enough to be educating my children, taken the crisps to countless pot lucks, and found that my daily allotment of old-lady-flax, stirred into applesauce, makes it taste just like…mmm….applesauce with flax.

Inventory levels are still dangerously high, so I’ve been forced to get creative. I found a recipe for Apple Cheddar soup in a library cookbook and began adapting. The first version was too bland for my critics, numerous and specific as they are, but this version seemed more to their liking. I’m taking six quarts to a Soup Swap on Thursday night, and I hope that the title, while admittedly truthful, isn’t offputting. Wish me luck.

11th Plague of Egypt Soup

¼ pound bacon, sliced in cubes

3 onions, chopped

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

4 peeled and slices apples (or more! be generous!)

2 T flour

1 t salt

A few grinds of fresh pepper

3 – 5 cups chicken broth (depends on how runny or thick you like your soup)

3 cups sharp cheddar, shredded

3 T cornstarch

3 T lemon juice

4 carrots, diced and steamed

Optional:  freshly popped popcorn to use as croutons

Cook bacon in soup pot until crispy. Remove bacon and reserve, keep fat in pot. Add onions and garlic, sauté. Add apples. Sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper, simmer until very tender. Puree soup, return to pot, add broth to achieve your desired consistency. Sprinkle cheese with cornstarch and lemon juice and stir into soup until cheese melts. Return bacon and steamed carrots to pot. Serve with freshly popped popcorn as croutons if desired.

Other things I’ve added (on the “if it’s in the refrigerator, it’s a soup ingredient” theory): canned sweet potatoes, roasted red peppers, and half a carton of that goopy red sweet and sour sauce from the Chinese takeout). All vanished into the soup and came out great, right into the promised land.

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