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Apple-Brie Soup

This delicate soup recreates in liquid form the wonderful hors d'oeurvre of brie cheese served with apple slices--and the riper the cheese when you add it, the deeper the flavor of the soup, counterpointed by the sweetness of the apples. Serve hot to four people as a first course. It's a terrific start to a meal of roast chicken.

Garnish: thin curls of apple peel strips and toasted sliced almonds

Melt butter in a large saucepan, stir in the onions, celery, and apple and saute on low heat until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook on low heat for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in 1 cup of stock, whisking hard until thick and bubbly. Whisk in remaining stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree, solids first, and return to saucepan.

When ready to serve, reheat on low heat, then stir in the cheese cubes. Let the cheese melt slowly, stirring occasionally. When the cheese is all melted, whisk hard. You can puree briefly if the consistency is not completely smooth. Stir in the heavy cream. Ladle into bowls and garnish each with apple peel curls and a few toasted almonds.