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Comfort Me with Apples - in Butternut Squash Soup

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Apples are a comfort – in cakes and pies for sure, and in muffins and quick loaves and chopped and stirred into oatmeal – but here you get a double whammy of comfort- hot soup with apples. Earthy squash and sweet-tart apples make a perfect pairing. The recipe comes from a new book – The Comfort of Apples, by chefs Philip and Lauren Rubin, who were inspired by an afternoon spent picking apples at a local orchard. When their baskets were full, they looked at each other and wondered, what do we do with them? They came up with a book full of ideas – nearly one hundred recipes that make the best of tart, flavorful apples, which are at their peak, with more varieties available than ever right now.

Although butternut is favored for its mellow flavour, soft flesh and smooth (read: peel-able) skin, try swapping other types of squash, or a small pumpkin (which is, after all, a type of winter squash). To change it up a bit, spike it with a spoonful of curry powder or paste after you sauté the onion. I adapted this a bit – although I can’t wait to make it with toasted walnuts and goat cheese in the bottom of the bowl as the recipe suggests, I was out of both and so spooned some thick, plain yogurt into a zip-lock bag, snipped off a corner and squeezed it in a spiral over the hot soup. Presto.

This soup freezes beautifully – it’s worth making a big batch to stash away in the freezer for last-minute dinners and lunches to go. To make it vegetarian, swap vegetable stock for the chicken.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
from The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite, by Philip & Lauren Rubin

Soup should be a smooth, friendly spoonful, which is why this is a lasting combination. Some ingredients just work well together: Butternut squash and apples have a complementary, mellow sweetness. Sweet potatoes and apples have a similar agreement, hence our sweet potato side dish

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
4 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 quart chicken stock
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper
½ cup walnut halves
4 ounces goat cheese, sliced in ¼ -inch rounds

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent about 3 minutes. Add the squash, apples, carrots, stock, and cinnamon and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Ladle the vegetables and half of the broth into a blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth. Return soup to the pot and stir in the remaining broth, one ladleful at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Season well with salt and pepper.

3. To serve, place a few walnuts in the center of a soup bowl. Shingle 2 slices of goat cheese on top of the walnuts and ladle the soup around the goat cheese. The idea is to have the goat cheese visible atop the soup. (Hint: it may be easier to ladle the soup into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour from there.) Serves 6.

The above is an excerpt from the book The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite by Philip & Lauren Rubin. Copyright © 2010 Philip & Lauren Rubin

Author Bios: Philip and Lauren Rubin, authors of The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite, and graduates of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, own 2 Peas & A Pot, a Manhattan catering company. They previously worked in several restaurants, including Cafe Luxembourg, Union Pacific, and Tribeca Grill. Lauren has also worked as a personal chef and recipe tester at Good Housekeeping. They have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, and were the subjects of a full-length feature in BizBash, the premier trade magazine for event planners. They live in New York City with their son, Henry.

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