For the last few years, I have been engaged in a wonderful relationship with shallots. I've found their sweet, sophisticated flavor has improved my cooking immensely. This light-bodied soup contrasts their delicate essence with earthy rosemary and a touch of cream for a velvety texture. Top with pancetta and frizzled shallots for a burst of crispness. Serve as first course for beef or chicken dishes, or as a main course with the obligatory crisp green salad and crusty bread. —mariaraynal
Heat olive oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium, add 5 cups shallots, sweat until soft for several minutes.
Add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and bay leaf. Cook until golden and beginning to caramelize, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary.
After another five minutes or so, deglaze with wine and reduce. Add chicken stock and simmer for at least 10 minutes, longer if you have the time. Remove bay leaf.
Meantime, saute pancetta in a stainless steel pan until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add remaining 1/2 cup shallots to pancetta fat and cook until crisp. Place on paper towels.
Remove soup from heat and puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Stir in cream and serve, topped with pancetta and frizzled shallots.
I'm a self-trained home cook and freelance food writer who enjoys cooking and eating seasonally and locally whenever possible. When I travel, visiting the farmers' markets, local groceries and specialty food shops is as important as the shopping, museums and restaurants. I love to immerse myself in cookbooks, then go into the kitchen and experiment; and writing about food and the chefs who cook it is my latest pursuit. By day, I'm an executive speechwriter and event planner.