First things first … please join me in wishing my niece a very happy 3rd birthday! Sophie is the oldest girl of the Cousin Crew, and she celebrated her special day with cupcakes at her school. It seems like the last three years have flown by… I still remember waking up to the call that my sister was already at the hospital, having a baby that couldn’t wait to get out. And now, she’s a big sister, an adorable niece and in pre-school. (And for your trip down memory lane, here’s when she turned two and one and the big day). Happy Birthday, Sophie!
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It took me forty years to have butternut squash for the first time, and now I’ve had it four times in the last three weeks. Consider me a late, but now committed, adopter. The first time I had butternut squash was in this to-die-for salad suggested by my friend, Jessica. It was so good, I made it twice in the same week. And then another batch of squash, just roasted with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. Amazingly, addictingly good.
And now? This Butternut Squash and Apple Soup from my uber color-coordinated friend, Beth. I made it last night, as an appetizer to a Braised Pork recipe that I’ll be telling you about this week. The soup was the perfect starter to a Fall-inspired meal, filled with tummy warming foods that make you feel good from the inside out. And clean eating? You betcha.
And with that, I can take a night off because Beth even did the write-up for me… (Project 365 down below, btw)
Fall is here, and with it, all the smells and flavors of the season. Cinnamon, apples, roasting things. Makes me feel all warm and cozy just thinking about it. And for today, that means the first batch of Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. It won’t be its last appearance this season, for sure.
Now, I am not one to peel a butternut squash. If you are, more power to you. My supermarket (and many others I’m sure) sells packaged pre-prepared squash. It’s a lifesaver.
A little olive oil, some garlic and thyme, and a little while in a nice hot oven, and the scents of fall start to waft through the house.
Now chop an onion and some nice tart granny smiths, and sauté them up until they just start to take on a little color. Ginger and allspice and a wee bit more thyme make things even more aromatic and warming.
Add the roasted squash, some chicken broth and simmer. Simmer some more. You won’t believe how good it smells in your kitchen or stop yourself from sneaking little bites of squash out of the saucepot. And I have to warn you, if they haven’t already, family members will start appearing in your kitchen or calling down to ask what smells so amazingly good.
Once everything starts to seem like it’s really falling apart and super tender, all that’s left is to purée.
So easy, especially if you have an immersion blender. If not, no worries, a regular blender will do (just be careful of getting burned and process in small batches).
And you end up with a cup of fall just ready for the taking. I can’t wait for dinner!
Sneak peak of tonight’s dinner. OMG good.
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Recipe courtesy of Beth G.
2 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut up
2 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic
2 T olive oil, divided
2 cartons low sodium chicken broth
5-6 fresh thyme sprigs
Pinch ground ginger (I skipped the ginger and allspice and instead used cumin, nutmeg and cloves)
Preheat oven to 400. On foil lined tray, combine squash, garlic cloves, 3 sprigs thyme. Drizzle with 1T olive oil and stir to coat. Roast until squash is golden and tender – start checking after 45 minutes or so.
Sauté onion in remaining oil until translucent. Add apple and sauté just until apple starts to soften. Add 3 sprigs thyme, ginger and allspice, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add roasted squash, garlic and thyme and stir to combine. Pour in one of the cartons of broth, cover and simmer until everything is starting to fall apart, around 30 minutes. You may need to add more broth – it all depends on the squash and how much moisture was in it.
Remove thyme sprigs and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Using immersion (stick) blender, purée until smooth, adding more broth until you reach the desired consistency (note: soup thickens considerably as it cools). Alternately, you can purée in a blender or using a food mill. If using a blender, use caution and blend in small batches to avoid burns.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of maple syrup if desired.
Note: The soup thickens considerably when it cools. This is easily fixed with either more broth or a little bit of water., Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad