05 October, 2010

Comfort Food for a Wet, Rainy Day

I don't know where you're sitting at the moment, but I'm in a cold, wet house (too early in the year to turn on the heat), watching the rain drizzle down.  Last week we were 4 inches below normal for rainfall, this week we've made up the shortfall and pulled ahead by two inches.  Need I say more.

This kind of weather makes me thing of one thing: soup.  So here's my cure for the rainy day blues.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup  (Serves 8 generously)
You can vary the spices any way you like.  If you don't like heat, start with just 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp cumin with black pepper to taste.

2 Tbs    unsalted butter  
1 1/2 cups    sliced leek, white and pale green parts only  
1 Tbs    minced garlic  
6 cups    peeled and roughly diced butternut squash  
3 cups    peeled and roughly diced apples  
1/2 tsp   cinnamon 
1/2 tsp   cumin
1/2 tsp   curry powder
1/2 tsp   adobo chili
6 1/2 cups    low-sodium chicken broth  
Creme Fraiche  (or sour cream) and chopped chives for garnish  

1 Melt the butter in a large pot over moderate heat and cook until it just starts to turn a light nut brown. Add the leeks and sauté until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté briefly -- until you can smell it.
2 Add the squash and apples, raise the heat to high, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices and cook briefly -- a minute.
3 Add the broth, bring to a simmer, and cover partially. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the squash and apples are tender, about 40 minutes. If you have a hand-held immersion blender, go ahead a puree the soup right in the pot.  Otherwise, transfer in batches to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return to the pot, reheat to serving temperature, and season with salt to taste.
4 Divide the soup among warmed bowls and garnish each portion with a dollop of creme fraiche and chopped chives. Serve immediately.

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