Do you ever find yourself in a ‘break everything’ jag? No, I’m not referring to an over-the-top post break-up “Girl Smash!” mode or the super cute I-still-think-I’m-fourteen-style tantrum. I’m talking about those stretches when everything you touch seems to break. You get a saucer from the cupboard, it winds up on the floor. You pick up the apparently overloaded basket you used to store magazines, the handle unravels in your hand. You leave your favourite hat in a cab. And, to add insult to injury, you break your favourite bottle opener and your beer is trapped forever…Not really, where’s there’s a will there’s a way. When this type of bad luck hits you there really is only one answer: potatoes, the ultimate comfort food. And what should you do with said potatoes? Make this Aged Cheddar Potato Soup with Sautéed Apples.
Everything in the first paragraph actually happened to me this week. Also, my cat recently decided that the area rug in our living room must die, so now that has to be replaced. Woof! What a week! It really feels like the universe is out to get me. I, of course, know that couldn’t possibly be true because the universe is not the least bit interested in a neurotic, Canadian girl with a penchant for self-pity and cat that waited until age 8 to rebel. Honestly, none of this would be that bad if it weren’t grey and cold every day. Anyone else nursing a case of the January blues?
The positive in this less-than-positive situation is comfort food is not only allowed, it’s entirely expected. And, for me, comfort food is and always will be potatoes and cheese. They just belong together and while I think potato skins and cheese are their most legendary pairing, this Aged Cheddar Potato Soup is a close second.
Full disclosure: the following is a sponsored post in partnership with EarthFresh. This Canadian company grows some mighty fine potatoes and surviving the winter without root vegetables is just unimaginable. I mean, yes, before refrigerated trucks and air travel, you literally wouldn’t survive a Canadian winter without root vegetables. But even in this age of year-round mangos and hothouse tomatoes, is there anything more comforting than a side of mashed potatoes or, I don’t know, a bowl of Aged Cheddar Potato Soup? Nope, not in my books.
It is well-documented that I have a fascination with salty-sweet. Even salty-sweet combos that some consider blasphemous (pineapple on pizza, anyone?) are winners in my book. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I put apples and pears in my Aged Cheddar Potato Soup. To be honest, I kind of want to put them on everything now. I had a hunch that fried fennel seeds would play nice with sautéed apples and I was not wrong. The fennel seeds provide the apples with a herbal, slightly savoury flair. They ensure the sautéed apples and pears make sense in a soup and not in a pie.
Now, if you’re thinking, who wants to dirty another pan for some apples? I get it. You can totally leave them off and just make the soup. Everybody will be happy, provided you use a sharp enough cheddar. I really can’t stress that enough. Get some cheese that is truly old and tangy. I picked up a cheese that goes by the name “Tickler” and it is a razor-sharp cheddar. I’m not saying you have to scour your neighbourhood in search of a British cheddar with a distinct name. But you do have to locate a cheddar that has teeth.
That’s pretty much all you need to know about this Aged Cheddar Potato Soup with Sautéed Apples. It’s dead simple to make and it will repair even the foulest of moods. So, the next time you find yourself wondering if the universe has it out for you, take control of the situation and eat some potatoes.
Aged Cheddar Potato Soup with Sautéed Apples
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 3 celery stalks roughly chopped
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves
- 6 EarthFresh yellow potatoes peeled & cut into chunks
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- 3 bay leaves
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1 1/2 cups aged cheddar shredded
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 Honeycrisp apples peeled & diced
- 2 Forelle Pears peeled & diced
- 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and celery and season with a sprinkle of salt. Sauté until just translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes more.
- Add the potatoes, stock, bay leaves, thyme and 1 teaspoon of the salt to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Leave the soup to simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, heat the remaining olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the apples, pears, demerara sugar, cinnamon and the remaining salt and sauté until the fruit caramelizes and a syrup has formed. This should take about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves from the soup pot and transfer the soup to a large food processor. Blitz until smooth. Pour the soup back into the pot and place over low heat. Add the cheese and stir until melted and well-integrated.
- Divide the soup between 4 bowls and garnish with a dollop of yogurt, a spoonful of sautéed apples and a sprinkling of pepitas. Serve immediately.