Indulge me briefly while I mourn the end of summer, Fellow FoodBeest. Rhubarb and ramps, that heralded the coming of summer, are long gone. So are cherries. Forget about peaches and berries. Watermelon has gone mealy and tasteless. Tomatoes are hanging on by a thread. Sweet corn is nearly gone.
But the sky is that incredible shade of blue that only happens in the fall. And the good apples are back: MutSus and Honey Crisps. And new Golden Delicious. Spinach is back after it’s hiatus during the hot weather and it’s sweeter than ever. Winter squash is making its seasonal appearance. So I thought I’d take advantage of it with one of my favorite autumn soups: Winter Squash with Apple.
You can really use any winter squash: acorn, butternut, round multicolored carnival squash or creamy delicata, buttercup or hubbard. The only one to avoid is spaghetti squash because its stringy texture wouldn’t work very well here.
This soup has a lot of play in it and you get to make it exactly the way you like it. It is sweet, it’s acidic; its spicy; it’s even a little savory. And you get to say what dominates. Plus, this soup is the color of Fall.
What You Need To Make Winter Squash Apple Soup
2 T olive oil (divided in half)
1 chopped onion
2 nice fall apples
[I used Granny Smiths, which gave it a slightly tart undertone. Macintosh will make a sweeter soup]
1 t grated fresh ginger
1½ T sweet curry powder
[I know some people don’t like curry powder and while this has a very mild curry flavor, you can easily and successfully substitute sage. Squash loves sage. I prefer fresh, chopped and lightly fried sage leaves, but the dried stuff will do.]
½ t cayenne
1½ lb winter squash (I used an acorn squash)
2-4 T maple syrup (or brown sugar)
[if you are using maple syrup, use the real thing, not maple-flavored syrup]
6 C chicken stock
[if you prefer a vegetarian version of this soup, vegetable stock works just fine]
2 t salt
½ t pepper
½ C plain yogurt
2 T half-and-half
How You Make Winter Squash Apple Soup
I chopped the onion and the apples into about 3/4-inch cubes. You can cut them a bit bigger or a bit smaller, just as long as they are of a consistent size.
Then I heated 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a soup pot and sautéed the onions and apples together until they were softened up and getting translucent. Then I added the ginger, curry power and cayenne just for a few minutes until they got very fragrant.
While they were cooking, I peeled the squash. Acorn squash takes a little patience (a commodity I am short on) to peel because of its ridges so that took a little time and both the potato peeler and my knife. I cut it into cubes, again, about ¾-inches across. Please don’t bother actually measuring. It doesn’t matter that much.
I tossed the squash cubes with the second tablespoon of olive oil and about a half-teaspoon of salt. Then I set it on a cookie sheet (the kind with edges around the sides) in a 375-degree oven and let it turn brown and caramelize around the edges.
I added the squash to the onions and apples in the pot, along with the chicken stock, salt and pepper, brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
AT this point you can use your food processor, an immersion blender or even a stand-up blender (if you use a stand-up blender, you will have to let it cool a bit and blend it in stages) and let it get VERY smooth. Mix in the yogurt and the half-and-half and reheat slowly.
You must taste the soup for sweetness (add more brown sugar or maple syrup) and heat (add more cayenne). Don’t ever be afraid to add more salt. Often a little more salt will take your food exactly where you want it to go.
When you are satisfied, you can ladle the soup into bowls. Top with a tablespoon or two of crème frache, Greek yogurt or Mexican crema, sprinkle with chives and enjoy the taste of fall.
So Fellow FoodBeest, it’s your turn. What is it that you really speaks of the new fall season? Maybe it’s food. Maybe something else. This is your opportunity to share with the rest of us.