Thursday, October 10, 2013

Butternut Apple Soup

This recipe comes to you just in time for the peak of the fall season.  Fall is my favorite time of year, not because of my birthday in September, but because it is when the colors really come to life, as though the leaves of the maples and elms are hand painted in brilliant shades of orange, yellow, and red magically over night.  The days become cooler and crisper, encouraging us to slow down and warm up with a satisfying mug of tea or coffee.  The usual, hectic pace of summertime starts to slow down as the days gradually get shorter and the natural world gets ready for its long winter nap.  There's something about this these months that is just inexplicably beautiful.

Another gratifying benefit of this season?  The food!  By now, the supermarkets and farmers' markets are filled with delectable seasonal treats.  So many varieties of apples greet you upon walking in, varying from tart to crisp to sweet or a little bit of everything.  The various textures of squash and pumpkin await you in their many forms, eager to provide that starchy, delicate balance your evening meal was waiting for.  Ripened pears, bright carrots, jewel-toned beets, sweet grapes, earthy potatoes, and others complete the cornucopia that is fall harvest season.

I think about the types of foods this time of year and notice that most of them come from underground or close to the ground.  They are starchy, sweet, and filled with carbohydrates and fiber.  As a person with diabetes, this raises some red flags because the more carbs one consumes, the more insulin one has to take, but in reasonable portions these are excellent sources of nutrition.  I have been curious about the cyclical seasons of crops and am sure it is no mistake that the gifts we are offered this time of year are so starchy.  Traditionally, this would be the time to get ready for winter, to spend time hunting, gathering and storing food, and expending lots of energy performing such activities.  What this means for us today, I'm not sure, since we don't prepare for winter like we did in the past.  It's hard to think in this way when our weekly trip to the store keeps starvation at bay.  Does this mean the extra carbs we eat and neglect to burn off have to simply become added weight and insulin resistance?  Not necessarily.  Maybe create your own ritual activity for the fall time.  Make it a point to can some apples, beets, or tomatoes.  Freeze some of your garden grown herbs with some olive oil in ice cube trays before the frost gets to them.  Plan a hunting trip, gather some walnuts, or simply go for a hike in the leaves.  The point is to make good use of the extra energy these seasonal foods have given you and prepare for winter in some way that connects you back to our ancestors.

Today, my gift to you is a recipe for butternut squash and apple soup.  I have been making variations of this soup for years and still have yet to perfect it.  This is the closest I've got.  It is a dish best made when you have an afternoon free because it does take some extra time to prepare.  You may also play around with the balance of this soup according to your individual taste.  I prefer it primarily a bit sweet, somewhat salty, and with a small kick of heat.  You might have different preferences so adjust accordingly.  It might also be richer with a small splash of coconut milk or half and half.  As always, make it your own.  It's yours now.
(For my 'betes friends, I will start posting carb counts soon!  For people on Autoimmune Protocol and avoiding nightshades, you might use chicken stock instead since the veggie stocks have tomato and pepper and, of course, leave out the cayenne.)


6 cups Roasted and Cubed Butternut Squash (1 and a half large squashes)
2 Large Peeled/Chopped (McIntosh, or your choice) Apples
2 cups Chopped Onions
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
2 tablespoon Coconut Oil/Butter
1 32 oz./Qt. container Vegetable Broth/Stock*
1/3 inch piece of freshly grated ginger root
dash of Cinnamon
1 teaspoon (additional to taste) Sea Salt
10 drops of Frank’s Hot Sauce
splash of Apple Cider Vinegar

*Depending on the salt content of your broth, you might add salt seasoning more mindfully as you cook.  I used Kitchen Basics' Vegetable Stock that uses minimal salt and contains no MSG.

1.  Preheat oven to 350.   Slice the butternut squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Rub with oil and roast for an hour, until tender.  Allow squash to cool.  Peel baked squash and cut into 1 inch cubes.  Set aside.

2.  Set soup pot to medium heat and add coconut oil or butter.  While stirring, sauté the onions until tender.  Add diced apples to the mix.  Shortly after, add minced garlic.

3.  When the mixture is on the verge of browning, add broth/stock, vinegar, salt, spices, hot sauce, and squash.  Allow this to come to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes.

4.  Remove pot from heat and pour contents into large glass bowl(s).  Allow the mixture to cool down until tolerable to touch. 

5.  While waiting, sauté another diced apple in some oil until the pieces are cooked, but still somewhat firm.  Remove from heat.

6.  Using a food processor, carefully puree the boiled soup mixture in batches until smooth, leaving one cup of mixture unblended. 

7.  Add pureed soup to the pot with the diced cooked apple and mix in the unblended portion.  Heat through again until warm or simmering and season accordingly.  Garnish with frozen cranberries, pumpkin seeds, or cinnamon stick.

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