My husband (I can officially call him that now) gives me a hard time about the way I outwardly express my joy when eating something delicious. “It’s like you’re on a poorly-scripted cooking show, and every time you take a bite you have to come up with something amazing to say about it.” I confess: He’s not altogether wrong. Sometimes I do pretend I’m on a cooking show. I furrow my brow, look at the dish in front of me, point to it, speechless, stupefied. Only when I’ve chewed enough of the bite do I attempt to speak (my mother taught me never to talk with my mouth full, after all), and out comes adjective-laced prose about the sumptuous dish before me. But I only do that when I really mean it.
So last week, when I was going about rolling my eyes to the heavens, leaning back in my chair, throwing my hands in the air and muttering things like, “Un-be-lievable. . .” through a mouth full of soup, well, I meant business. Which of course elicited an equally exuberant eye-roll from my then-fiance. “Really?” he asked, “Is it that good?” “Yes. Try it.” The “it” that had me squirming with delight in my chair was the butternut squash soup with caramelized apples and gingered crème-fraiche (I know!) served the night before our wedding at Adelea’s on Main in Salado.
Half of us in attendance out-ordered our fellow diners when we chose the soup over the salad; when it came out, marveling at the cream garnish on top in the shape of our initials, we all took our first bite and immediately ordered those sitting closest to, “Try this.” And we all, in turn and all too quickly, licked the bowls clean. When Jennifer, the chef, popped her head in to see how dinner was going, we begged her to send us the recipe for this soup. She kindly obliged.
Normally I wouldn’t feature the same ingredient two recipes in a row, but come on. This is the quintessential fall soup, with seasonal ingredients to boot. And if this makes an appearance on your Thanksgiving table, your guests will behave as aforementioned and you in turn will be the star chef. If you’re tired of butternut, try acorn squash or even a pie pumpkin instead; but I would recommend following this recipe to the T. It has sweetness, and spice, and – trust me – everything nice.
Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Apples
Recipe generously shared by Jennifer Lohse Angell, chef at Adelea’s on Main
2 butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups diced onion
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups canned chicken broth
1 cup cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 apples, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Spray baking sheet with oil and place squash, cut side down, on baking sheet and bake until very soft, about 45 minutes. Let cool and remove squash with a spoon. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Sauté carrots for 5 minutes and then add onion and celery until soft, about 3 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and sauté until soft, about 1 minute. Add chicken broth and squash and boil for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and place soup in small batches in a blender and blend until smooth. Return to pot and add cream and salt and pepper to taste.
For caramelized apples, melt butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and sauté apples until tender, about 10 minutes. Add as topping to soup.
* To make this vegetarian, simply swap vegetable broth for the chicken.