OK – so I lied. I thought that I’d be able to keep up my cooking in the warm months, but I just couldnt do it. My dinners usually consisted of cheese, crackers, fruit, nuts, a slice of salami… or something along those lines. Anything to keep my stove off. In fact, my gas bill for the last 2 months has been $2 over the minimum charge for delivery fees. Now? The leaves are starting to turn, the apples are ready to be picked, my radiator was on this morning, my peacoats are out, and my cookbooks are marked. Dear Fall – I’m ready!
Apple picking in New England is the thing to do in the fall – it’s not something that us Californians do back at home. Sure we have apple farms, but we have every type of farm. Apples, I guess, dont make a special list. I wanted to go to a smaller farm, one that didnt have hay rides or t-shirts for sale. Something simple. I wanted to meet the real farmers and walk around filling my bag with whatever I wanted. and I did. I went with a couple friends of mine to Harvard, MA (no, nothing to do with Harvard University… that’s in Cambridge) to a small farm called Carlson Orchards. $23 for half a bushel (however much that is) we filled our bag and wandered around the farm in the cool foggy mist. We climbed the (low) branches, sampled from the trees, and navigated the acres of apples – by ourselves. Arriving a little before 5PM, we were the last ones there. My favorite of of them all? Empires – a cross between Red Delicious and Macintosh. They are dark red, firm, juicy, and sweet – but not too sweet. The perfect apple for cooking with.
A couple days later we made two sour cream pies – sweet, spiced, creamy, pies. The pies were too hot for me to take home, and unfortunately they spoiled because I found out they never made it in the fridge. The parts were delicious, so I can only imagine the completed piece of work would have been too. This soup was my second attempt at doing something with the apples other than just having them for breakfast. With the weather finally in the 50*s, I thought it was time for soup. I mean, who doesnt love soup on a cold cloudy day?
This recipe is very simple and very easy. The hardest part is peeling the butternut squash and apple – be sure to have your vegetable peeler on hand. I couldnt find mine for a couple minutes, and trying to peel a squash with a pairing knife wasnt fun. Also be sure to cut up the pieces into small cubes. The squash and apple are browned and almost cooked entirely from the oil, which is why the recipe only calls for 6-8 minutes of simmering. The larger the cubes, the more time you’ll have to add at the end simmering.
Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
based on recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine, April 2010
8 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4″ strips
2.5 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2- inch dice
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4- inch dice
1 quart low sodium chicken stock
1 tbs dried sage
salt and pepper
splash of white wine vinegar, or to taste
1. Cook the bacon in a large pot until crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a plate with paper towels.
2. Add butternut squash cubes to bacon fat and brown for 6-8 minutes. Be sure not to stir too often or the squash wont brown.
3. Mix in the apples, sage, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
4. Pour the chicken stock into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
5. Stir in 3/4 of the bacon bits, and puree with an immersion blender.
6. Season with a splash of vinegar, salt, and pepper.
7. Garnish with remaining bacon bits in bowls, and serve warm.