The inspiration for this soup comes from two places. The first is Dovetail, one of my favorite restaurants in New York. One of the dishes that I love there is a deconstructed clam chowder that is by far the most interesting (and arguably best-tasting) clam chowders I've ever had. You are presented with a bowl filled with the normal constituents of a clam chowder; clams, onion, diced potato, etc, and then a warm, creamy, perfect chowder broth is poured over the top if it in front of you. The result is a startling contrast to a standard chowder, where all of the flavors blend together and become one. Instead you find yourself tasting the ingredients on their own, with the broth being the perfect backdrop. It was eye-opening. Since then I've been wanting to create a soup using that method. The second, of course, is Food52. When I read about the onion contest, it seemed like the perfect time to test it out, using caramelized onions, pears, and bacon as the main ingredients, and adding a gorgonzola cream to it. —lechef
4-6 as a starter
Smoked bacon, chopped
Finely diced, peeled potato (1 large, or 2 medium Yukon gold or standard baking potatoes should do)
large Spanish onions, halved and thinly sliced
Anjou or Bosch pears, peeled and diced, 1/2 in cubes
This recipe calls for 3 pans. One for the cream sauce, one for the bacon and pears, and one for the onions. Prep all of your ingredients first and then start cooking. If you start the pans all at around the same time they will all be done at around the same time. None of them require constant supervision, so managing them all at once is not difficult as long as you are prepared. Get the blender set up first so you are ready for the cream sauce. Then dive in!
Make the cream sauce. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil with the potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Pour the potatoes and broth into a blender and add the milk, gorgonzola, remaining 1T of butter, nutmeg, and 1 T of the sage. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper (about 1tsp each to start, but adjust for your taste) and return to the saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring, reduce heat and simmer until ready to serve.
The Onions: add the onions and 2T of butter to a skillet and cook on medium heat to caramelize them. This will take about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden brown. Once the onions have reached golden brown you can reduce heat to low, sprinkle with salt, and let them sit while you finish the rest of the soup.
In a third, smaller frying pan, brown the chopped bacon on medium heat. This will take about 5-10 minutes depending on your heat. Remove the bacon to a paper towel to drain.
Add the wine to the pan to deglaze, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the pears to the wine and cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until slightly soft. This will depend a lot on how hard your pear is to begin with, so adjust accordingly for a very hard or very ripe pear.
Assembly. Here you have a choice. If you are going to be serving at the table with the cream base as a finishing touch, then add a layer of onions, a spoonful of pears, and a sprinkling of bacon to each bowl. Pour the hot cream sauce on top and garnish with fresh sage and a turn of black pepper. If not, you can mix all of the ingredients together, ladle into bowls, garnish, and serve.