Curried Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

Subtitles I was considering for this post:

– pimp your Thanksgiving dinner, part 1
–  the best soup you’ve likely never made
– autumn in a bowl

I was intrigued by this soup when I stumbled across it in one of the first cookbooks I owned, Southern Living’s The All New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook collection, because it just screamed fall to me. Further, I was fascinated by the addition of apples. I just couldn’t fathom what this soup could possibly taste like. Sweet like butternut squash soup? Yet warming like my mom’s curry chicken? Yet slightly acidic from the apples? And creamy?

And that’s pretty much what happens when you eat it. Each spoonful is a glorious medley of flavors distinct enough to be tasted separately but incredibly harmonious if you can think of taste holistically. And I’m not trying to sound snobby. It was like Willy Wonka’s everlasting gobstoppers! (As portrayed in the Gene Wilder version of the movie wherein Violet Beauregard enjoys an entire flavor of meals prior to turning into a blueberry). Plus it’s deliciously velvety and incredibly comforting.

If you’re looking for that one new dish to add to your Thanksgiving spread this year, this is it.  (But if you’re not convinced, I’ll have two more Thanksgiving-worthy autumnal soups in the coming weeks. After all, lest you forget, we’re still in the middle of my soup project!) And yes, Alex made his skeptical face when I told him this was to be our dinner this evening, but once he smelled it cooking and took one bite, he was so happy. He even had seconds!

Curried Acorn Squash and Apple Soup (very slightly adapted from The All New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook)
Yum Factor: Alex – 8.4, Jessalyn – 8

– 2 medium acorn squash

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Slice each squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for about an hour. Remove and let cool. Once cooled, scoop the flesh from the squash and set aside.

– 4 tablespoons butter
– 4.5 cups chicken broth
– 4 apples (Granny Smith is suggested; I used what I had which was a combination of Granny Smith, Crispin, and Golden Delicious), large dice
– 2 baking potatoes, large dice
– generous 1.5 tablespoons curry powder
– 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon paprika
– 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like a little spice)
– good sprinkle of salt

2. Melt butter in soup pot over medium low heat. Add broth then apples and potatoes and spices. Raise heat to medium high and let it bubble away, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. It will start out kind of watery and after 30 minutes will have reduced down quite a bit, the veggies will be tender, and the mixture will seem thicker and more uniform. Plus your house will smell amazing.

3. Add acorn squash pulp to the soup and, off the heat, carefully puree the soup (either using an immersion blender or in a regular blender). Check seasoning. You’ll likely need to add salt.

– 2 cups cream (optional – I might recommend only 1 cup or less, especially if you want to cut calories)
– 2 tablespoons honey

4. Return the pureed soup to the pot. Stir in the cream slowly, as well as the honey. (This was another thing that intrigued me–honey? In a savory soup? Really subtle flavor kick, though. Brilliant). Oh, and if you opt not to use the cream, you might consider stirring in 2 tablespoons or so of butter before serving to give it some velvety richness. I used the recommended amount of cream this time, but would probably at least cut it in half in future preparations.

5. Cook on a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes. Check the seasoning one last time. You’ll likely need to add salt. Ladle into hot bowls and enjoy with bread or na’an and a glass of crisp white wine. Garnish? Could use a couple leaves of cilantro. Or a gentle drizzle of honey. Or I was really craving some sweet and spicy walnuts for some reason. Any of these would be lovely, to be sure.

So what do you think? Have you ever had an autumnal soup that capitalized on that ubiquitous fall fruit – the apple? Will this soup find a place at your thanksgiving table? I’m sure you could garnish a bowl or two with some leftover turkey quite easily. Or are there other soups that you have been eyeing this fall? Do tell.

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