|Butternut Squash and Apple Soup|
Am I being baptized by fire?
As you're well aware, I moved from California over this past summer. I grew up there and didn't realize how spoiled I was as a California resident from the standpoint of weather. Alas, as I sit here looking at my desktop monitor, I'm experiencing my first cold snap as a Washington resident. Overnight lows have dipped into the low 30s (that's one side or another of 0° Celsius) and it only warms to the mid 40s during the day. Consequently, I was in the mood for something warm and comforting.
Adapted from page 78 of Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking by Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced thin
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into a coarse 1-inch dice
3 cups apples, peeled and cut into a coarse 1-inch dice
2 teaspoons toasted spice rub*
6 1/2 cups chicken stock\
1/4 cup candied walnuts
1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter browns, add the leek and sweat, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant.
2. Raise the heat, then add the squash and apples and sauté until caramelized. Stir in the toasted spice rub, then deglaze with chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and maintain until the squash and apples are tender, approximately 40 minutes.
3. Transfer to a blender, in batches if necessary, and pureé until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, then transfer into warmed bowls garnished with candied walnuts. Serve immediately.
* The recipe for toasted spice rub can be found on page 24. Combine 1/4 cup whole fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon coriander seed and 1 tablespoon in a small dry skillet over medium heat. Toss frequently to ensure the spices toast evenly. Once the fennel is lightly browned, add in 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes and continue to toss, then remove to a plate and set aside to cool. Once cooled, grind in a spice grinder, then combine with 2 tablespoons kosher salt and 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon.
Chef Chiarello's toasted spice rub recipe makes significantly more than what is needed for this dish so I played around with the spice amounts to achieve a balance of flavors instead of making the recipe. I was also surprised that Chef Chiarello notes the walnut garnish as optional. In my opinion, they're an integral part of the dish, providing a contrast in both flavor and texture.