- 2 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 1 leek, white and light-green parts only, split lengthwise, cut crosswise into thin slices and washed well
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- Pinch grated nutmeg
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- 2 tablespoons Calvados or other brandy
- 2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
- 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 meaty smoked ham hock (about 3/4 pound)
- 1 bouquet garni: 6 parsley stems, 3 sprigs thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried, and 1 bay leaf
- 4 cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch cubes of day-old French or Italian bread, crusts removed
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- In a large pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat until almost crisp. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and let melt. Add the apples, carrot, onion, celery, leek and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon, the allspice and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine, cider and Calvados and cook until almost dry, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree, stock, ham hock, bouquet garni, cloves and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Add the pepper. Discard the bouquet garni and cloves.
- Remove the ham hock. When it is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bone. Cut the meat into small pieces and reserve.
- Puree the soup in a food mill or food processor. Add the ham.
- Combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with the sugar. In a large frying pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with the oil over moderate heat. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. Reduce the heat to moderately low and sauté stirring frequently, until the bread is crisp and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
- Reheat the soup and serve topped with the croutons and parsley.
The blend of smokiness, sweetness and spiciness in this dish will pair beautifully with a slightly acidic, off-dry young Gewürztraminer from New York's Long Island or from Alsace in France.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.