When it comes to making delicious seasonal food, there is nothing more inspirational than seeing what's available at the local farmer's market. Here's a seasonal soup that is made from some of the bounty that fall has to offer. (Even I have to admit that that last part was a little corny, but fall just brings the corniness out in me).
1 butternut squash*
2 tbsp melted butter*
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
½ tsp of black pepper
½ tsp of salt
1 quart vegetable stock
1 ½ cup apple cider
½ tsp cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp butter
pinch of nutmeg
(You may need to add more salt, pepper, cinnamon, or nutmeg depending on the size of the butternut squash. This recipe is also delicious with a touch of curry powder!)
Roast the butternut squash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.
Cut the butternut squash in half and scrape out the seeds.
Place squash halves on a lined baking sheet, flesh side up, and brush the flesh liberally with melted butter.
Bake the apples
Peel, halve, and core 2 apples.
Rub all four halves with butter.
Place the apples cut side down on a lined baking sheet.
Bake both the butternut squash and the apples at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
The apples will take about 30 minutes before they become fork tender, but depending on the size of the squash, it may take 30-90 minutes for it to soften. (I ended up having to toss a sheet of aluminum foil over the squash to help it along after 60 minutes, and it still took another 30 minutes in the oven).
Prepare the soup base
While the apples and squash are in the oven, chop a large onion and sweat it in 2 tbsp of olive oil until it starts to become translucent.
Season the onions with ½ tsp of black pepper and ½ tsp of salt.
When the onion starts to brown, add 1 quart of vegetable stock and 1 ½ cup of apple cider to the pot.
Simmer the soup base. When the apples are fork tender, mash them with a fork and add them to the soup base. Add ½ tsp of cinnamon and 2 bay leaves.
Continue simmering the soup. When the butternut squash is fork tender, scoop the flesh out of the squash. If you have one of those fancy immersion blenders, dump the squash into the pot and go to town with the immersion blender until the soup is smooth. If you have a regular blender, put the squash in the blender and puree it before adding it to the pot. If you're like me and have neither, mash the squash with a fork or potato masher (I call it “rustic”).
Add a tsp of apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp of butter, and a pinch of nutmeg. (If you are adding curry powder, add it now.)
Stir the soup and taste it. If you would like it to be a little sweeter, add a tbsp or two of honey. Add more salt, pepper, or cinnamon according to your personal taste preferences. If you used an especially large squash, you may need to adjust the seasoning quite a bit.
Allow the soup to simmer for at least 15-30 minutes. Serve hot.
* Quick option**: Skip roasting the butternut squash and apples. Peel and halve both fruits. Remove the seeds and cut the flesh into cubes. Toss the cubes into the soup base and simmer them until they are soft. When they are soft, go to town with a potato masher and finish the job with an immersion blender (or regular blender). Add the additional seasonings, butter, and apple cider vinegar as directed in the recipe.
** Quicker option: Skip the butternut squash and apples completely and just use one 29 oz can of Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin (make sure that you aren't using the "Libby's Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix") and one cup of unsweetened apple sauce. Add the additional seasonings, butter, and apple cider vinegar as directed in the recipe.