December is one month that wouldn’t be complete without a little overindulgence, and by the time January rolls around I usually find I’ve taken the festive merrymaking just slightly too far. That said, there’s something I quite like about re-setting in January, and my rebound from overindulgence usually brings about new cravings for fruit, vegetables, and generally-speaking healthier foods.
This year soup seemed like the perfect antidote to turkey and stuffing, and with a brand new cookbook gracing my bookshelf (Sunday Soup (Chronicle Books 2008) – a splendid Christmas gift from my sister), I was eager to test out a new recipe. Betty Rosbottom‘s recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Cider Cream is fresh yet hearty, and makes for a completely satisfying meal on a cold winter evening.
What you’ll need:
For the soup
5 tbsp/75g unsalted butter
6 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (I used 1 large one)
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (I used 3 medium leeks)
1/2 cup (that’s a 125mL cup full) coarsely chopped carrots
1/2 cup (that’s a 125mL cup full) coarsely chopped celery
2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped, plus an extra for garnish
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
5 (1250mL) cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups (375mL) apple cider (that’s cloudy apple juice for the Brits)
For the apple cider cream
2/3 cup (165 mL) sour cream
5 bacon slices, sauteed until crisp, drained and crumbled
I doubled the recipe, so don’t worry if there looks to be rather a lot of some ingredients in the photos…
What to do:
The thing that takes the most time when it comes to making this soup is the prep. Butternut squash is always an underestimated nemesis, so once you’ve finished chopping, slicing and dicing, take comfort in the fact that the hard work is over.
For the soup
Begin by melting the butter in a large heavy bottomed pan (this pan will need to be large enough to hold all of your ingredients). Add the butternut squash, leeks, carrots and celery, and sautée over medium heat for 10-12 miuntes until they begin to soften. Add the apples, thyme, sage, chicken stock and 1 cup of the apple juice. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes (or until all of the vegetables are tender), then remove from the heat.
For the cider cream, boil the remaining 1/2 cup of cloudy apple juice and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup (this will take 5-10 minutes). Cool then stir into the sour cream.
After this, purée the soup in a food processor (this will require a number of small batches) and season the puréed mixture to taste with salt. If necessary, you may wish to reheat the soup in your saucepan, however ours was toasty enough without.
When it comes to presentation, I love how easy it is to make this soup look gourmet. Fill your bowls with soup, drizzle each serving with apple cider cream, sprinkle with bacon and garnish with a few razor-thin slices of apple.