Hodge-podge. Witches' brew. Miscellany. Whatever.
Anyway, the sweetness of the apples, leeks and maple-smoked bacon performs a lovely balancing act here with the earthiness of the beans and tomatoes. Sherry, in its justly famed role as a matchmaker and ground-smoother, marries the various ingredients beautifully (ZOMG GROUP MARRIAGE HIDE YOUR CHILDREN), and the result is... this bouncing baby soup.
On the "how much did everyone eat?" scale of soup success, this one earned highest marks. Jim came home from work (after having had soup leftovers for dinner at work) and ate two bowls. The notoriously slight-appetited Rhys ate two bowls. I ate two bowls, even though I wasn't technically hungry when I started cooking.
And Fisher? Fisher had four. And only stopped because I told him we needed to save enough for Jim to take to work the next day.
There were about two or maybe three servings' worth left. Jim took all of it. And ate all of it. (Of course, this was the one occasion I had someone take me up on an offer of leftover soup--only to go home to pack some up for her and find it was vanished sans trace...)
I made double what the original recipe called for, since so many of the reviewers said they wished they'd had more. Still probably could have gotten away with making half again as much.
Salmagundi, or, Apple-Leek-Bacon-Tomato-Sherry Soup
Serves... eh, not enough.
1/4 to 1/3 pound good hardwood-smoked bacon, diced (or just kinda chopped, if you're using "ends and pieces" as I was)
1 medium onion, chopped, or omit it and use 1 or 2 more leeks
1 large-ish or 2 small-ish leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed well and chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic or more, minced
1 to 2 Tbsp Montreal steak seasoning, boughten or made yourself (if you don't have this to hand: it's basically coarse salt, pepper, paprika, red pepper flakes and a little dried dill)
4 cups cooked pink beans (I had some left from the sauerkraut & bean soup of yesterseveraldays; you could also use two 14-ounce cans pink or pinto beans, rinsed and drained)
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
2 medium apples--Granny Smiths or Jonathans would have been lovely, but what I had was Fujis and they were great too--peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup dry sherry (NOT COOKING SHERRY)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream for serving (seriously, a couple of teaspoons of sour cream in each bowl transfigures this entire soup)
Put the bacon in a cold soup pot over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but about 3 Tbsp fat.
Return the pot to medium heat; add onion, leeks and celery. Cook, stirring regularly, until tender and/or translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and Montreal seasoning. Cook, stirring, one minute more.
Add beans, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and let simmer.
Once the soup is simmering, combine apples and sherry in a small saucepan. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for several minutes (you don't really have to stir constantly, but near-constantly is pretty good) until apples are softened. Transfer apples to soup, along with most of the sherry (I probably used about 2/3 of the remaining sherry; you could probably also just dump it all in). Stir in reserved bacon.
Continue to cook at a nice low simmer until you think it's good and ready. I probably gave mine about 40 minutes. Anywhere from 25 minutes to a little over an hour is just fine. Taste it and correct seasoning as warranted.
To serve: Ladle into bowls; whisk a little sour cream into each bowl until smooth.
Image by Flickr user alisonhulot. Used under a Creative Commons license.