Sunday, September 30, 2012

Southwestern Spiced Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I'm usually sick of butternut squash by the time my winter CSA share is over, but I'm nevertheless excited each year when it first shows up at the farmers' market. Although pumpkin is the king of squashes in my book, butternut and acorn aren't that far behind in the rank, making for marvelous companions for sweet and savory accents alike. In this soup, butternut squash combines its sweetness with both more from the Golden Delicious and savory onions and garlic, all cut with a bright punch of acidity. Even with no fat involved, butternut squash makes a supremely silky soup, but the extra richness from a modest amount of olive oil, butter, and Greek yogurt pushes this soup from just good to slightly decadent. The sophisticated blend of spices sing against this lush backdrop, a beautiful melange of smoky, sweet, and spicy with a positively  intoxicating aroma. Recipes like this highlight the quintessential flavors of fall, light enough for the not-yet-freezing temperatures, but hearty enough to satisfy the stomach and soul as the cold winter temperatures begin their slow creep in.

Southwestern Spiced Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
adapted from The Fresh and Green Table by Susie Middleton
serves 4

1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
1/4 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups medium-diced onion from about 2 medium onions
1 1/2 pounds peeled butternut squash from about 1 medium squash, but into medium (3/4-inch) piecces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 Golden Delicious apple (about 7 ounces), peeled, cored, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups), or other apple of choice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped toasted pecans or pepitas for garnish (optional)

1. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, ground ancho chile, cocoa, sugar, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside. In a small liquid measure, combine the apple cider and soy sauce. Set aside.

2. In a large Dutch oven, heat he olive oil and butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir well. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and beginning to turn brown, about 8 minutes. Add the butternut squash and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook until the squash and softened (it won't be completely tender) and has taken on some browning and the onions are lightly browned (the bottom of the pan will be brown), stirring occasionally at first, as the squash steams, and more frequently, scraping the bottom of the pan, as it begins to brown, 12 to 4 minutes more.

3. Uncover the pot, add the garlic, and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spice mixture and stir well. Add the cider-soy sauce mixture and stir well, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  Add the apple and 5 cups water, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring and scraping the sides occasionally, for 15 minutes to blend the flavors and finish cooking the apple. Let the soup cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. In a blender, puree the soup in three batches, filling the jar only about halfway or just a little more and partially covering the lid with a folded dish towel (leaving a vent uncovered to let out steam) to prevent hot soup from splashing you. In a large mixing bowl, combine the three batches. (Alternatively, blend the soup with an immersion blender). Whisk in the yogurt, cilantro, lime zest, and 1/2 teaspoon of the lime juice. Taste the soup for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. Return the soup to the (rinsed) pot and gently reheat. Taste again and season with more salt or more lime juice (if desired).

5. Serve hot, garnished with toasted pecans (if using).

No comments:

Post a Comment