Meatless Monday: Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I used to collect cookbooks and never read them. I’d flip through the beautiful photos of food, or display them to demonstrate my commitment to a legitimate food library, but I probably cooked a single recipe from one and then put it back into the display and then never opened it again. But in the last few years, I’ve begun collecting books and obsessively pouring over them, tagging recipes and dog-earing pages and planning a week’s menu around what I’d need for something I found in a new cookbook so that I could make the most out of the ingredients. It’s the same with food blogs. I might need an intervention. They are the best rabbit hole to fall down, and guess what — so many food blogs now have AMAZING cookbooks! THE RABBIT HOLE OF ALL RABBIT HOLES! How do I get anything else done anymore??

Anyway… the best thing about going through all this eye candy and reading all these fabulous recipes is that ideas beget ideas. This one is great – because I spun it off of this recipe from Dinner: A Love Story (who, as you may read, if you follow that link, spun hers off of Ina Garten’s, and Ina spun hers off of Silver Palate’s). See what I’m talking about? Food magic.

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This soup is beautiful. It’s dense and luscious and balanced and perfect for a cold day like the bitter all-of-a-sudden-it’s-the-dead-of-winter day we have going on here in Chicago. It freezes well, if you have any leftovers that is. It’s pretty kid-friendly (if your kid eats soup – mine only just realized soup is awesome recently). And it’s a great make-ahead (I actually made this yesterday, and let the flavors deepen overnight and through the day so that they were Mach 10 Awesome by the time dinner rolled around this evening). Plus, super extra bonus, I got to use my immersion blender, which just makes me goofy-nerdy-happy (you don’t need one to make this soup by the way). But I digress. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
* olive oil
* 1t salt
* 3/4t pepper
* 1 1/2-2T curry powder
* 1/4t cayenne pepper (optional)
* 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
* 2 granny smith apples (you can use another kind, but I like the bite of these green beauties against the delicate squash), peeled, cored, and cubed
* 2-3C veggie (or chicken) stock

Optional Garnishes:
* one apple (any variety), sliced into thin strips
* Greek yogurt or sour cream or creme fraiche
* fresh chopped green onion
* garlicky croutonscursqappsoup1
* shredded Parmesan
* toasted pecans or pumpkin seeds

WHAT TO DO
Heat some oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. After a few minutes, when it begins to glisten, add the onion and cook until it softens and begins to brown. Add the seasonings and mix them through. Breathe that baby in. Yeah, buddy.cursqappsoup2

Add the squash and the apple chunks, then add enough broth to cover the ingredients by about 1/4 inch. Bring the whole pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, until the squash and apples get soft and fork-tender.

Here’s the fun part. If you have an immersion blender, get that puppy out and puree until the soup is smooth and velvety (or until it looks like your preferred texture, if smooth and velvety is not your thing). Add more broth (or water’ll do, too) if necessary. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, just let the pot cool a bit, then transfer the soup in batches to a regular blender and puree until you’ve got the consistency you like.) Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve hot with any of those garnishes noted above (or any others you come up with), and with a side of warmed fresh bread while recapping your day with the family, or while reading food blogs and cookbooks for more ideas.

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