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Roasted Brussel Sprout Soup w/ Goat Cheese

After many requests for a new soup, ideas were buzzing about in my head. I wanted to try something different and a tad off the cusp. Some of the finalists were asparagus and mushroom, but both of those soups seemed so common. Finally, I landed on this idea of a brussel sprout soup. I love brussel sprouts on their own, and they have recently become somewhat trendy in restaurants. Roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and brussel sprout chips are popping up on menus of hip and new restaurants around the city. I thought that they would make for an awesome soup base if done right. If you just boil or steam the little heads of cabbage, they can become quite bitter and unpleasant. My mom has the distinct memory of hating brussel sprouts as a result of this. So, I took great care and was sure to add a lot of flavor to the sprouts.

I started, of course, with bacon. The cured pork was fried until crisp, then set aside for a last minute addition and garnish. The pan drippings were going to be used to help ensure a wonderful flavor base for the brussels. Lightly trimmed and halved, the sprouts were added to the pan drippings along with some diced shallots and sauteed until they started to caramelize. Here I added a pad of butter to add even more flavor to the sprouts and continued to caramelize a bit more. Once the sprouts were looking good and almost cooked, I deglazed the pan with some dry sherry. Sherry is an awesome ingredient for soup. It adds such a wonderful mild flavor, much fuller than white or red wine. Now, the mixture was ready for the soup liquid. In went about 6 cups of veggie stock, some salt and white pepper. Covered and simmered for about an hour. Once the brussel sprouts had a good texture and were absorbing all of the stock, I used a stick blender and blended the soup until it was a silky smooth consistency. Here is where I wanted to experiment a little. I had seen something on a food network show a while back that paired goat cheese with brussel sprouts – very intriguing. So, to finish the soup, I added about 3 ounces of goat cheese, along with a cup or so of heavy cream. I stirred the soup until the goat cheese had melted and was incorporated throughout the bright green mixture. I tasted it, and it was fantastic. The goat cheese was definitely at the forefront of your taste buds, followed by the wonderful sweet and savory brussel sprouts to finish. This soup was hearty, silky, savory, sweet, and everything I like about a good soup. Finished off with a generous amount of crispy bacon and a thick slice of heavily buttered bread, this could not make for a better meal.