Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

by brookefiore

There is a lot to be said about shopping local. At a time when retail sales are about to spike and in anticipation of Black Friday I thought I would send out a reminder to hit up your local retailers before heading to the mall. It’s quite prevalent these days, the messages about staying local, supporting the community in which you reside. For me, this message has always been something of importance. That being said, I understand that sometimes it is just easier or faster to head to the Home Depot than waiting for your local hardware store to reopen the next day. So while I’m not perfect all the time, I try to stay local when possible, I never said I was perfect…just striving for it.  

I never really know when an inspiration for a recipe or project will hit me, sometimes it’s through conversations with friends or coworkers and sometimes it’s after visiting a restaurant. Sometimes though I really never know why the idea comes to mind. The best guess I have for my latest decision to make butternut squash apple soup came from the towering pile of apples on the countertop and the chilly air that made me long for a hot bowl of something good. Of course the opportunity to use my food processor is always appealing too.

I was informed that Sunday’s are in fact made for football, not soup making as I had claimed last week. However, instead of football, I found myself chasing the sunset this past Sunday evening. The breeze and ocean spray may have been nearly torturous but the way the clouds appeared to be on fire and the funny U-shaped shadows the seals made in the forefront of a burning sky made the brisk air much more tolerable. I realize the sunset can be viewed from the slightly warmer and drier shore but there is something about being one of the only boats in the water, grasping on to the tail end of boating season, this time of year is for the real die-hards and it holds a special place in my happy heart.

While out on Long Island Sound I couldn’t help but anticipate the warmth of soup. Once home I got to preparing my soup by peeling and cutting the butternut squash. I had hit a road block though, I was determined to include apple brandy in my recipe and after visiting two liquor stores I had been unsuccessful in finding any. I abandoned the soup until the following day after I had spoken with the owner of the local package store. Although she was out of apple brandy, she had some apple pie liqueur left over from an in-store tasting. I was thrilled, I would be able to get cooking after all.

This soup is extra-sweet, almost dessert like and can be thickened by omitting some of the vegetable stock if desired. The opportunities for variations are endless in my eyes but I couldn’t have made the foundation of flavors if not for shopping local. As we are yet one day closer to Thanksgiving I am thankful for local businesses, beautiful sunsets, and my kitchen.

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

Serves 4 to 6 

Recipe adapted from Country Living and Simply Recipes.

About 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

a dash of salt and pepper

2 TBSP unsalted butter

1 cup chopped white onion

1/2 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch cubes

1/2 cup apple cider

1/4 cup apple brandy (I used apple pie liqueur)

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or less if a thicker soup is desired) 

Melt the butter in a stockpot over medium-high heat, add the onion and saute about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the squash and apple and saute another 5 minutes. Add the spices, cider, brandy, and vegetable broth.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer, cover and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until squash are very tender. Remove from heat. 

Let cool for about 10 minutes and divide into small batches. Puree in a food processor until very smooth. Serve warm and garnish with low-fat sour cream, apple slices, chopped nuts or fresh herbs such as parsley or chives.