Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

September 30, 2014

This post is chock full of ideas.
For Apples.
For Butternut Squash Soup.
And for sitting with a cozy sweater and a warm steaming bowl of something in your hand.

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Is it just me, or is Butternut Squash soup like a meditation on fall? Complex yet simple, velvety yet smooth, rich but light with a combination of flavors that tastes like the season, made a touch more complex by using apples too. I actually resisted making it – it didn’t feel like fall last week with our high temps. But after I met up with a close friend at a hotel that had Butternut Squash soup on their specials, I took one bite and I was done. I had to make it at home.

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And it had to be Butternut Squash soup with Apples. I love the combination of apples, onions, and butternut squash. Oh, and pepitas. (I just got a big bag in the whole foods aisle and sooo in love with pumpkin seeds right now. They are the perfect salty crunching topping for this soup, and I may have drizzled just a touch of olive oil on top too. Amazing.)

So yesterday, while I was munching on pumpkin seeds, I put on an apron and peeled and chopped and stirred and smiled. I could feel the change of seasons coming in underneath the window and in the smells and sounds of cooking with fall foods. I had two huge bags of apples thanks to our day of picking at Applecrest:

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Here is what I did/am doing with all of them:

And of course, this Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. I love any recipe that can be a canvas to paint on with flavor. And that’s what this is – are you in the mood for a creamy soup? gingery? Indian/Curry Flavor? Start with this basic recipe, which is so easy when you buy the butternut squash already halved and peeled at the grocery store. (Jack Pepin says to treat the grocery store like your sous chef, and I love thinking about this while I am shopping. It really made putting this soup together a breeze.)

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I sat here on our first chilly fall afternoon and tried all of these variations on this base soup. They were all amazing. I did start out with the roasted version to concentrate the flavors, but this recipe below is the basic stove top method and so good too. And I even added some red curry, peanut and scallion toppings to one bowl today (I had multiple tastings) the way that Ina Garten makes it.

This soup is heaven, and it bewitches you into thinking about it all day when it is in the fridge. But having it in there makes me a very happy girl.

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Butternut Squash and Apple Soup (printer version here):

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 large butternut squash (about 4 1/2 pounds) or 4 pounds peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste (if using full sodium broth adjust to taste)
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (homemade is amazing!)
DIRECTIONS
  • Halve, seed, peel, and cube the butternut squash. (You can buy this already done at the grocery store).
  • Chop onions and garlic.
  • Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the butter or oil and the chopped onion. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the squash, apples and the broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer small batches to a blender. Hold a kitchen towel over the top (to prevent burns) and whirl until completely and utterly smooth, 2 to 3 minutes per batch.
  • Return the soup to the pot and add more salt to taste.

Makes 4 to 6 servings Perfect Butternut Squash Soup

VARIATIONS (taken from About Local Food‘s Molly Watson. She is amazing! I love her seasonal emails):

Classic garnishes for Butternut Squash Soup include a dollop of sour cream, plain yogurt, or creme fraiche. A sprinkle of minced cilantro or thyme is also tasty.

  • Creamy Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream after blending and gently heat until warmed through.
  • Spicy Add 1 chopped jalapeno chile and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne with the garlic. Stir in up to 1/4 cup brown sugar at the end. If you like, cream is also a nice addition to this version.
  • Roasted Roasting concentrates the flavor of the vegetables. You can use this method with any of the other flavor combinations you like. Put halved and seeded squash cut-side-down in a large pan. Arrange halved, peeled onions and garlic around squash. Pour in 1 cup broth and roast in a 375°F oven until very tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Scoop out the squash flesh from the peel and put it in a blender, along with the onions and garlic and remaining broth. (I did this, so good!)
  • Gingery Add 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon ground ginger along with the garlic. Make it even gingery-er by melting 4 tablespoons butter in a small frying pan. Cook until it turns light brown and add 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger. Swirl the ginger butter on top of each serving.
  • Warm Spices Add a combination of 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves, cardamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, cinnamon, and/or black pepper along with the garlic.
  • Ina Garten’s Curry Variation: just add a pinch of red curry powder to your bowl (use more if you are going to flavor the whole pot but I do it by the serving since some people don’t love curry in my house). Top with scallions, peanuts, sour cream or greek yogurt.

 

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