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There’s going to be plenty of time for regrets later. You know, when January comes around and you realize that you’ve spent much of the past two months cramming things into your mouth that you’ve sworn off the previous 10 months.

But, for now, go ahead and indulge in your wildest culinary fantasies. After all, that’s a big part of what the holidays are about. For me, it doesn’t get much more decadent than a cream-based soup flavored with an oozy, bloomy Brie, smoky bacon and sweet caramelized shallots. Well, I lied. It does get more decadent when you top it off with a crisp golden dome masking sheets of billowy puff pastry.

And that’s exactly the soup I came up with this weekend. It’s a take on a cream of brie that I used to teach in my cooking classes. That version combined Brie with equal parts whole milk and chicken broth. No cream. And a little celery was the only other flavoring. It was a thicker, heavier soup than this sleek, revamped – and I think much more flavorful – version.

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I’ve done away with the milk and replaced it with fat-free chicken broth, and finished the soup with a little heavy cream. But the real flavor kick comes from the crisp minced bacon and sweet caramelized shallots, which are cooked separately and stirred into the finished soup – before the puff pastry dome is placed on top of the bowl.

The result is a silky texture. I always err on the side of thinner rather than thicker when it comes to cream soups. I‘m not a fan of gloppy soups in which a spoon can stand at attention. In this version, the flavors of Brie, bacon and shallots each rise to the occasion, never getting lost in the mix. And the crackly pastry provides a buttery note and some welcome texture.   

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This is a pretty soup that’s good enough for your best holiday company. And if you’re feeling more casual, then ditch the pastry and serve it with a slab of rustic bread.

Cream of Brie Soup With Bacon, Caramelized Shallots and Puff Pastry Dome

2 slices thick-cut bacon, minced (It’s easy to cut if the bacon is frozen.)

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2 large shallots, cut in half and thinly sliced

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1/2 stick unsalted butter

2 celery stalks, strings removed and thinly sliced.

I find that a vegetable peeler makes the job a snap.

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1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon ground savory or thyme

4 cups chicken stock or broth

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3/4 pounds ripe Brie cheese, rind left on

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

Egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon cream or milk.)

In a skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the fat.

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Set the bacon aside. You should have about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat, add a little butter if you don’t have enough.

Lower the heat, then add the shallots to the bacon fat and sprinkle a little kosher salt over them. Let them sweat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they’re soft and browned through. This could take up to 20-30 minutes.

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Set the bacon and caramelized shallots aside when they’re done. You can make these ahead of time.

Meanwhile, in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, add the 1/2 stick of butter and melt it over medium heat. Add the celery and cook until the celery is soft.

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Add the flour and stir and let it bubble for about 10 minutes. You need to cook out any flour taste.

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Add the savory and the broth and whisk, letting the mixture boil for about 10 minutes.

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Chop the Brie and add it to the soup. I keep the rind on. It doesn’t melt, but it gets smooth after blending. If you want to remove the rind and toss it, go ahead. I think it adds flavor.

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Stir over medium-low heat until the cheese has melted. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, blend until perfectly smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. The soup can be made a day ahead at this point.

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Stir in the cream, then add the bacon and shallot. Let the soup cool before topping with pastry because the pastry won’t puff if it isn’t perfectly cold when you place it into the oven.

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To make the puff pastry dome, cut a round of pastry about 1/4 inch larger than the opening of the bowl.

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Fill the bowl with room temperature (or chilled) soup about 2/3 full.

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Brush a little of the egg wash on the top of the bowl’s rim. Place the pastry on top of the bowl and press the edges to seal, but don’t flatten the top.

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Brush some egg wash on top of the pastry. Place soup bowl on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes.

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Be careful when removing the bowls from the oven because they’re going to be extremely hot. Serve them on a heatproof surface.

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Printable Version:

Cream of Brie Soup With Bacon, Caramelized Shallots and Puff Pastry Dome

2 slices thick-cut bacon, minced (It’s easy to cut if the bacon is frozen.)

2 large shallots, cut in half and thinly sliced

1/2 stick unsalted butter

2 celery stalks, strings removed and thinly sliced

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon ground savory or thyme

4 cups chicken stock or broth

3/4 pounds ripe Brie cheese, rind left on

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

Egg wash (1 egg  yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon cream or milk.)

 In a skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan, leaving in the grease. Set the bacon aside. You should have about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat, add a little butter if you don’t have enough.

Lower the heat, then add the shallots to the bacon fat and sprinkle a little kosher salt over them. Let them sweat over low heat, stirring occasionally,

until they’re soft and browned through. This could take up to 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, add the 1/2 stick of butter and heat it over medium. Add the celery and cook until the celery is soft.

Add the flour and stir and let it bubble for about 10 minutes. You need to cook out any flour taste.

Add the savory and the broth and whisk, letting the mixture boil for about 10 minutes. Chop the Brie and add it to the soup. I keep the rind on. It doesn’t melt, but it gets smooth when I blend it. If you want to remove the rind and toss it, go ahead. I think it adds flavor.

 Stir over medium-low heat until the cheese has melted. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, blend until perfectly smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. The soup can be made a day ahead at this point.

 Stir in the cream, then add the bacon and shallot. Let the soup cool before topping with puff pastry because the pastry won’t puff if it isn’t perfectly cold when you place it in the oven.

To make the puff pastry dome, cut a round of pastry about 1/4-inch larger than the opening of the ovenproof soup bowl.

Fill the bowl with room temperature soup about 2/3 full.

Brush a little of the egg wash on the top of the bowl’s rim. Place the pastry on top of the bowl and press the edges to seal, but don’t flatten the top.

Brush some egg wash on top of the pastry. Place soup bowl on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes.

 Be careful because the bowls are going to be extremely hot. Serve them on a heatproof surface.