By STEVEN DESALVO
For Montclair Local
I am a big fan of making soups to feed people quickly and with relative ease. This soup is no exception. I used a number of classically fall ingredients — apples, and fennel and chestnuts to add flavor and texture.
This soup is so easy that it takes only about a half-hour to throw together, start to finish! The best thing is that since it is a puree you don’t need to bother with making your cuts uniform at all. Just roughly chop all of your vegetables and toss them in the pot.
As always, feel free to supplement something you would rather use instead! As long as the quantities remain consistent there shouldn’t be any problems. This recipe is vegan; it can also be gluten-free if you omit the croutons as garnish.
For the chive oil:
1 package chives (about 1 ounce)
1 cup canola oil
For the croutons:
1 slice standard sandwich bread
1 tsp. canola oil
For the soup:
1 tbs. canola oil
2 large honey crisp apples, unpeeled and roughly chopped, cores and seeds removed
½ of a yellow onion, sliced
1 small fennel bulb, green arms removed, roughly chopped
6 ounces of recipe-ready chestnuts (you can find them in bags in most stores’ baking aisle)
½ tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1 quart vegetable broth (I used mushroom broth, but any vegetable broth is fine.)
2 tsp. hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste (You will be using a fair amount.)
Start with the chive oil because it needs some time to cool down; you can also make cleaning the blender easier if you blend the soup afterwards to soak up some of the oil that will just stay in there.
- Combine the chives and 1 cup of oil in the blender. Blend on high until it looks like a puree and there aren’t many big pieces left.
- Pour the mixture into a small pot and cook it on medium heat until it starts bubbling, approximately 2 minutes.
- Strain the mixture into another container. Let it sit uncovered until cool.
For the croutons:
- Simply slice the bread into small, ¼-inch cubes, then toast them with the canola oil over medium heat until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
For the soup:
- Add the canola oil to the pan; once it is hot add the apples, onion and fennel. Season with a touch of salt so that nothing burns. Cook for approximately 7 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the chestnuts and the grated nutmeg, and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Pour in the vegetable broth, let it come to a simmer, and then cook it for 5 more minutes on a low boil.
- Finally, add the hot sauce.
- Puree the soup on high in your blender. I like to adjust seasoning in the blender so that you can easily mix it after making an adjustment. Don’t be discouraged, it might take a few tastes and adjustments for it to be to your liking!
Once the soup is seasoned properly, pour it into bowls and garnish with a few spoonfuls of chive oil and a handful of croutons. This recipe makes about 2 quarts of soup, so it will be perfect for a couple of meals. The chive oil will keep in your fridge for about a week, so be sure to use it as a garnish for whatever you might make this week!