I'm finally starting to get back in the kitchen, in part because my son discovered the joy of afternoon naps, and in part because I discovered something wonderful called the Moby Wrap, which allows me to "wear" my son and still have both hands free to prep vegetables or throw together a marinade. Once the Mister gets home, I can hand the baby to him, and cook the meal.
With winter finally making an appearance in Southeastern Pennsylvania, what better meal to eat than a thick and hearty, yet nutritious soup? This butternut squash apple soup from Epicurious is creamy without actually adding any cream, thanks to the potatoes, so it's easy on the waistline — only 180 calories per serving, and 4.4 grams of fat. Bonus? More than 150% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A, thanks to the butternut squash, which is also rich in beta carotene, iron, zinc, and calcium.
The sweet apples are a nice contrast to the savory bacon. The warmth of the cinnamon adds a subtle spice. And the bright color is a nice perk on a dull winter day.
And on a personal note, in honor of Branny's "Souper Bowl," this soup post is dedicated to Mutts. Mutts was not "my" dog, but I loved him as if he were my own. He was my foster dog from the Animal Care and Control shelter in Philadelphia. I don't know old he was. I don't know anything about his past. He wanted nothing more than to cuddle and play a little fetch.
But he was extremely dog-aggressive. He attacked my own dogs on three separate occasions. It broke my heart to do it, but I sent Mutts to Rainbow Bridge on March 9, 2010.
Butternut Squash Apple Soup
Recipe from Epicurious.com
- 6 slices bacon*, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ lb boiling potatoes, peeled and chopped (such as Yukon Gold, white potatoes or purple potatoes)
- 2 medium Granny Smith apples (about ¾ lb)
- 1 ½ lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth*
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Low-fat sour cream, for garnish
- Place a 6-quart sauce pot over medium heat, and cook bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon, and reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add vegetable oil if using lean bacon which doesn't yield enough fat.
- Add the celery, carrot and onion to the reserved fat in the pot, and cook, covered on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. While vegetables are cooking, peel, core and roughly chop one of the apples.
- Add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the vegetables, and cook, uncovered for one minute.
- Add the squash, potatoes, the chopped apple, broth, cider, water, salt and pepper to the vegetables in the pot. and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, then simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes to 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
- While soup is simmering, thinly slice the remaining apple into matchsticks. Place in a bowl, cover with water and a generous splash of lemon juice.
- Puree soup in the pot using an immersion blender**, adding up to an additional ½-cup of water if soup is too thick. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
- Ladle 1 cup of soup into a bowl, and garnish with a tablespoon of sour cream, some of the bacon, and a few apple matchsticks. Serve with crusty bread.