Silky Shallot Soup with Crispy Pancetta

by Maria on February 28, 2010

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, and they have, in many cases, replaced onions in my kitchen.

When food52 recently chose onion or garlic soup for one of its contests, I considered French onion soup, a garlic chorizo soup (need to pursue this idea one day), but then, it became apparent that I needed to create a shallot soup. It’s unique — certainly not something I’ve seen in cookbooks or restaurant menus — and it fits my cooking sensibility right now.

This light-bodied soup contrasts the delicate profile of shallots with earthy rosemary and a touch of cream for a velvety texture. Top with pancetta and frizzled shallots for a burst of salty crispness and to echo the soup’s essence. The end result is a subtle, yet intensely flavored dish.

Serve this silky brew as a first course for beef or chicken dishes, or as a main course with the obligatory crisp green salad and crusty bread.

Note: this recipe was a food52 Editors’ Pick.

Silky Shallot Soup with Crispy Pancetta

Serves 4-6
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
5 cups shallots, thinly sliced, plus a half cup
Salt, pepper and crushed red pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon rosemary, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
20 ounces good quality chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
5 1/2 inch slices pancetta, cubed

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.

{ 2 comments }

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite March 3, 2010 at 12:00 am

Congrats on being an editor's pick! I love the look of this soup – especially the crispy pancetta. Neil made a lovely shallot soup recently and we found it missing something – perhaps the pancetta is just that thing!

Maria March 3, 2010 at 12:44 am

Thanks, Mardi — I thought the pancetta really added something special. Cool that Neil made it — pretty unusual! BTW, love your new look, been busy at my day job and am a little behind on my blog reading.

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