Baby it’s Cold Outside! Warm Up a Bit – Sweet Butternut Squash Soup, with a Kiss of Apple Confit and Creme Fraiche…
So what am I doing outside these days? Oh all sorts of last minute, before-the-snow-flies chores and holiday decorating. Up until today, it has been unseasonably warm in New England, and I have been delighting in the temperatures while gathering greenery and stringing lights. But this morning, the air is a bit nippy, and I still need to wrap and protect some ornamental trees, (more on that later), in my garden.
After only an hour outside today, my fingers were already getting cold. I know I will get cranky this afternoon if I don’t make something warm to fill me up later. The wintry clouds are moving in now, promising at least a few inches of snow. I can hardly contain my excitement ! Just imagine how beautiful everything will look in the morning. I sure hope the forecast is accurate, don’t you? Things are looking a bit drab outside these days. A blanket of white will really bring out the red twigs and colorful berries in my garden, and I think the conifers look particularly magical all cloaked in fluffy snow.
Speaking of color, I am a push-over for bright orange soup on a grey day. This recipe for fragrant, creamy-textured butternut squash soup delivers exactly the warm temperature and hue I am craving. I love Annie Somerville’s Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes From The Celebrated Greens Restaurantcookbook for many reasons, but this soup recipe is really at the top of the list. I messed with the ingredients just a bit, since I do not have Calvados on hand. But I have found that Zeke’s heirloom apple cider, (from local Scott Farm), is a delightful flavor substitute when combined with a bit of French brandy.
So if you are working outside this weekend, or just feeling a bit blah, give this sunny soup a try. The bright orange-gold color in my charcoal colored bowl feels just like a ray of sunlight streaming through dark clouds…
Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Confit and a Kiss of Creme Fraiche
Adapted from Annie Somerville’s,Â Fields of Greens New Vegetarian Recipes
3 cups of Light Vegetable Stock (homemade is best)
1 Tbs light olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thin
3 Tbs Calvados , ( I substituted French Brandy and 1 Tbs apple cider, listed below )
4 lbs Butternut Squash, (1 good sized squash or 6 cups), peeled and cut into cubes
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 average sized, flavorful, sweet-tart apples, ( 2 1/2 cups peeled, cored and sliced)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs apple cider (or apple juice)
1/2 cup Creme Fraiche
Freshly ground white pepper
Warm the vegetable stock in a pot over low heat. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs of olive oil in a medium sized soup pot. Add the sliced onion, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bit of pepper. With the burner on medium, saute the onions, stirring regularly, for about 15 minutes, or until slightly caramelized. Add a bit of stock and scrape the onions from the bottom of the pan. Add 2 Tbs. of brandy and 1 Tbs apple cider, and cook over medium high heat until the pan is nearly dry.
Add the squash and 1 tsp of salt to the pan. Pour about 2 cups of vegetable stock, perhaps slightly more, into the pot until the squash is just covered.Â Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is soft. Pour the soup into a blender or food processor, add a bit more stock to liquify, and puree to a thick but soupy consistency.Â Add more stock as needed.Â Pour the soup back into the pot and simmer for a half an hour over low heat.
To make the apple confit: Melt 1 Tbs. butter in a saute pan, (with a lid). When the butter is melted, add apples and saute, medium-high, stirring to coat the apples in butter. Add 1 Tbs. Calvados or Brandy and cook down for about 2 minutes, or until the pan is nearly dry. Add the apple cider and cover, cooking the apples over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until soft. Uncover and cook another 5-10 minutes, reducing the liquid. Mash the apples lightly.
Divide the confit in half. Stir one half into the soup and set the rest aside to spoon atop each serving bowl. Add a dollop of creme fraiche and float a bit of apple confit atop each warmed bowl of soup before serving. Swirl for a pretty effect.
Article and photos â“’ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden
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