So clearly, I am very into all of the cozy flavors lately. I've also been into pureed soups and smoothies more lately than I have been in the last few months. In grad school, I thrived mostly on smoothies, coffee, toast and tofu scramble with sweet potatoes. Once again, I have slowly come to find that my system operates better if I incorporate a smoothie/pureed food about once a day or so...give or take. Usually starting my day with a smoothie sets the right tone for my inner workings, kinda like a warm-up? Is that weird? Anyways...if I'm really not feeling the smoothie or pureed/smooth soup vibe, I'll listent to my body and cravings and roll with it.Evidence for my love of smooth/pureed foods: squash soup. So much so, I have two other versions of a starchy-squashy-veg soup on this space (Exhibit A and B and C).
Over the course of several years, like many others, have made little tweaks to their signature sunny-yellow autumnal soup situation. Looking back at my notes, on soup/spice spattered pages, I enjoyed reading about some steps that I used to take, including but not limited to, roasting all the veggies before hand; using roasted garlic; adding a creamy component into the soup (coconut milk, cream, etc); playing around with a pear or an apple or even persimmon; using different spices; using fresh vs. dried ginger; topping with spicy chili oil; etc etc....you get the idea.I've settled on this one to be the best thus far (but I know changes will come, as they always do), so wanted to capture it in its simple, delicious glory. No roasting of the veg (but I retained the step for roasting the squash, since I do feel that the caramelized sugars with the high-heat of the oven really bring-it in the soup), no creamy component in the soup itelf, simply pantry-friently herbs and spices, no weird over-ripe fruit or persimmons (because I have yet to see one decent, not over-priced, not smashed-to-hell persimmon in the Madison area). Apples, butternut squash (the best you can find...going straight to the source if possible....kinda jk'ing about that but also not because trips to orchards and pumpkin/squash patches are fun...see below...), onions, a little hint of garlic, dried OR fresh ginger, a whisper of yellow curry, and simple adornments if desired (s swirl of your favorite creamy ingredient, like coconut cream thinned with water, cashew cream, real cream...you get the idea....and maybe some toasted pepitas). Cooked in water or stock (really, I've tried it all ways, and stock is super not necessary here, but if you DO, I really like Laura's method for veggie stock HERE), simmered to perfection. I hope you all find cozy ways to be present and enjoy the holiday season. I'm taking it very, very easy: no gifts, no tree (I have a pointsetia and amarillis, so festive plants are the theme this year), no crazy baking binges. It feels refreshing to be able to sit back, and think about components that I find myself thinking of (baking a shit load of cookies with my mom....hunting for the perfect tree...having way too much fun finding stocking stuffers that are moslty always jars of creamy olives/vibrant oranges/tasty dark chocolate...appreciating each and every Christmas ornament in my collection...etc).
And it is comforting to know that next year will come, and then, I can pick and choose what is meaningful to me. But for now, staying present and keeping things extremely simply feels right to me.
On that, I wish you an amazing week...stay warm and cozy!
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup // makes 8-10 cups of soup (enough for 4-5 hearty servings) //
- 1 large, or two smaller butternut squash, cut into halves or quarters and roasted
- 2 apples, prerablly a more tart variety, peeled and chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, left whole and smashed
- 2 TB olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 1/4 tsp dried ground ginger (ot ½-1” piece fresh, peeled and chopped)
- 1/4 tsp yellow curry powder (optiona)
- Pinch cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4-6 cups water or stock
- 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 2-4 sage leaves, or 1 bay leaf (optional)
- To Garnish/Serve: toasted pepitas, something creamy, smoked paprika
Roast squash, with seeds in, for 1 hour at 375F, or until tender and brown. Allow to cool slightly.
To a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the apples, onion, and garlic (and fresh ginger, if using). Cook until very tender, and starting to brown.
Scoop into the pan the cooked squash flesh, separating it from the seeds and skin.
Cook to slightly caramelize the squash in the pan with the onions, garlic and apple (about 5-10 minutes), stirring frequently.
To a blender (or use an immersion blender): add the squash mixture, and top off with water or stock. Blend until smooth.
Return back to pot, and adjust consistency with stock. Season carefully with spices, and adjust salt and pepper, as well as apple cider vinegar/lemon juice. Add in whole sage leaves, if desired, after blending to add a musky flavor to the soup (bay leaf works, too).
Simmer on low until slightly thickened, 15-20 minutes. Serve drizzled with cream, maple syrup, and sprinkled with toasted pepitas. Adjust viscosity with more stock or water if desired. Keeps well for up to 1 week in the fridge, or frozen for 2 months.