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
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
How to Make It
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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