I don’t believe I’ve ever been happier to see Meatless Monday. National Overconsumption of Poultry and Everything Else Day has left us sprawled in its wake. With the typical excesses of Christmas coming at us, I’m craving some clean, simple flavors. Something un-fussy.
Winter squash are everywhere right now, of course. I’m fond of butternut for soup because it purées to such beautiful silkiness. And I thought of tossing some apples into the mix because it just sounded interesting. I decided on a couple of Pink Lady apples because their texture is close to that of the squash – dense, in other words, so they’ll take about as long as the squash to roast.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT AND APPLE SOUP
1 medium-sized butternut squash
2 pink lady apples
2 ounces olive oil
1 quart vegetable stock
1 generous teaspoon turmeric
Sea or kosher salt and pepper
Fresh sage leaves – 6 or 7 per person
2 ounces good olive oil (read here about the distinction)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
The squash is easier to split in half the long way if you cut off the stem first. Once halved, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
Also cut the apples in half. With a paring knife, make an angled cut along each side of the core, creating a V, and pop the core out.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Brush the cut sides of the squash and apples with olive oil.
Then turn them face down.
Set the sheet in the oven. Roast everything for about an hour, until all can be easily pierced with a knife. Please note that the neck of the squash will take longer to roast than the bulb.
If the apples get done sooner than the squash, simply lift them out with a spatula. First, though, be sure they are really soft. Mine had reached that point after 45 minutes.
The squash was poking along, so I raised the temperature to 400, and set a timer for 15 minutes more.
When the apples and squash are done, remove them from the oven and turn them face up. Let them cool until you can handle them comfortably.
Use a large spoon to scoop the flesh out of the apple skins and the squash hulls. Drop all into the bowl of a food processor. Add 4 ounces of vegetable stock. Purée until as smooth as possible.
Pour everything into a soup pot and whisk in the remaining stock.
Turmeric. It is what gives curry powder its beautiful, golden-orange color. It’s also a good antioxidant and has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. Whisk it into the soup. Marvel at how amazing it smells. It will lend a lovely umami by complementing both the sweetness of the apples and the savory elements of the squash and sage leaves.
Begin heating your soup over medium heat, stirring it now and then. When it is warmed through, season it to taste with salt and pepper.
While the soup is heating, warm additional olive oil in a small skillet. When it ribbons or shimmers, it is adequately hot. Gently drop the sage leaves into the oil. Fry until crisp, about 4 minutes. When they stop sizzling, they’re done. Remove them to paper towels. Sprinkle a bit of salt over them.
Hint: make extra because you’ll want to snack on some – alright, a lot – while the soup finishes heating.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Arrange the sage leaves on top, then with a spoon, scoop up the olive oil in which they were fried, and drizzle it over the top of the soup. Pour the rest into a ramekin and dip some good, grilled bread into it.
Waste not, want not.