This week has been kind of unfortunate. Work is slow, struggling with questions about the future, and at some point during the week I lost twenty dollars. After I had realized I had lost the twenty dollars, I was about ready to put my hands in the air, and scream as loud as I could on a sidewalk in Chicago. Luckily, I was able to contain my overwhelming sense of fury. So it might be a bit of an exaggeration, but hey, I was in one of those moods where little things felt like the end of the world.
So what was I to do to make this week better? Well, delicious food always makes things better. So I set out to make a tasty dinner for my brother, his girlfriend, and my roommates. This post is about the soup that I found on an incredible blog known as Local Milk .
The photography is eye capturing, the writing is pristine, and the recipes are wonderful. I couldn’t help myself when I saw the “Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Brandy Soup”, I needed it. So I looked up the closest Sur la Table, bought myself an immersion blender, and went to town.
Yesterday, the kitchen was filled with aromas of roasting fall produce, shallots and garlic cooking in butter and brandy, and by the end, I wasn’t sure there would be dinner because I could have eaten it right out of the pot.
It ended up being a successful first course. Everyone enjoyed it, and my roommate decided that it tasted like “Thanksgiving in a bowl. ” Personally, I loved the way it looked. It had a nice light golden color, creamy texture, not too thick, and not too soupy. The fennel frond and roasted pumpkin seeds also added a nice touch of color. The bowls were from Sur la Table as well (they made a shiny penny off of me this week) because I was getting a tad bored with my current collection of dinnerware.
So with a bowl of delectable fall flavors, a little retail therapy, and a warm friendly dinner, my week instantly got better!
Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Brandy Soup
2 lbs. butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and 1″ chopped
1 lb. firm, tart apples (i.e. Honeycrisp) – cored and 1″ chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked salt, and a little extra for seasoning
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot – between 3/4 to 1 cup chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup apple brandy or calvados ( I used Laird’s Applejack)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 cups stock (chicken or veggie, I used low sodium chicken)
1 tablespoon raw honey
1/4 cup cream, a little extra to thin soup afterwards
Tamari roasted pepitas (make your own or certain stores carry them i.e. Whole Foods)
Fennel frond or thyme sprigs for garnish
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
The best way to make this soup is to be very “mise en place” about it.
That being said, chop and measure out all your ingredients according to the ingredient list.
After doing so, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the butternut squash and apples with the olive oil and a teaspoon of smoked salt on the baking sheet. Put into the oven and roast until soft in the middle. You should be able to easily poke a hole with a fork. Around 20 minutes. Afterwards, move to the upper rack, and turn on the broiler. Let the squash and apples get nice and brown on the top, but be careful not to burn them.
While the squash and apples are cooking, begin to melt the butter in a deep pot over medium-low heat. Let the butter get a little brown. Add in the shallots and garlic with a nice three-finger pinch of smoked salt. Stirring occasionally, sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent and fragrant, but do not brown them. Add the brandy and thyme leaves. Cook until the brandy is reduced by half and the alcohol has cooked off. Should take about 5 minutes. By this time the veggies should be ready. If they are not, remove the shallot mixture from heat and set aside.
Once the veggies are done, add them to the shallot mixture. Top with stock, honey, and another three-finger pinch of smoked salt. Stir and bring to a covered simmer for about ten minutes. Remove the lid and using an immersion blender, blend the soup until nice and smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can put a portion of the soup into a blender and repeat that process until there are no chunks of squash or apple left. Once pureed, add the cream and mix. Taste and adjust seasoning with smoked salt or honey. If you want the soup thinner, you may add more stock or cream. I like a rich soup, so I used the cream.
(Optional) Serve with a garnish of fennel frond or fresh thyme and tamari roasted pepitas for a little crunch. You can always use another seed of your liking, but I thought these tasted pretty spot on.