Spiced Apple Cider Soup with Sweet Potato Dumplings, Quince, and Dates
- 2 quarts apple cider
- 9 McIntosh apples, coarsely chopped
- 5 Gala apples, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns, cracked
- 1 1/4 tablespoons mace
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves, cracked
- 2 cinnamon sticks or 1 tablespoon Saigon cinnamon
- 5 star anise, cracked
- 2 medium or 1 large sweet potatoes
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more, for roasting
- 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups sugar
- 10 star anise, cracked
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 fresh quince, peeled
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 6 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 6 fresh dates, pitted and cut into slivers
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped into soft peaks
Prepare the Spiced Apple Cider: In a large pot, combine apple cider, apples, ginger, peppercorns, mace, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise. Bring to a simmer; cook until apples break down, about 2 hours. Allow to cool overnight; pour through a strainer lined with cheesecloth.
Prepare the Sweet Potato Puree: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wrap sweet potatoes in parchment-lined aluminum foil, and place over a bed of salt on a baking sheet; bake until soft, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Allow to cool.
Using a spoon, remove flesh into a bowl, and stir in 2 teaspoons of salt. Pass through a food mill, fitted with a fine disc, into a medium bowl. You'll need 1 cup of puree for the dumplings.
Form a well in center of puree. Add flour, egg, and sugar; mix until incorporated. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip; set aside.
Prepare the Poached Quince: In a medium saucepan, combine 6 cups water, sugar, star anise, and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to a simmer. Add quince, and cover with a parchment paper round; weight with a small heatproof plate to keep the quince submerged. Poach until tender, testing with a knife, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool.
When completely cooled, remove quince, and cut in half lengthwise. Discard poaching liquid. Remove core, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.
Prepare the Fried Pine Nuts: Heat grapeseed oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat; add pine nuts, and toss continuously until browned. Add sugar and salt, tossing to coat. Drain on a paper towel. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, reheat Spiced Apple Cider. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; squeeze 1/2-inch long tubes of sweet potato mixture into water. Poach for 1 minute.
Meanwhile, divide quince and dates among six warmed serving bowls. Place a dollop of whipped cream on one side of each bowl. Using a slotted spoon, remove poached dumplings and place over fruit; ladle warm cider into bowl opposite the cream. Serve immediately.