Apple Butternut Squash [& Onion] Soup

This summer (and now fall) I am featuring some of my favorite garden produce recipes. For the entire list, see the Recipes page or click on the recipes label.

Okay, this may be a bit of a stretch for my summer garden recipe project as the only produce from my garden (the last of the yellow onions) has only a supporting role, but we’re going to go with it anyway. To make up for it, I offer proof that it was, at least, a Minnesota Grown squash:

If you would have told my 12 year-old self that someday I would be looking forward to making anything with butternut squash, my 12 year-old self would never have believed it. More times than I care to admit, I sat at the dinner table with a tiny dollop of squash (the mandatory “taste”) left on my plate. Cold (because I would refuse to eat it as long as could before I had to give in), squishy, orange… I can’t say that I have delightful memories of squash.

My mom has since admitted to me that squash is very much an acquired taste (my 12 year-old self feels vindicated by this admission, even 20 years later). Admittedly, I’m not entirely there yet myself, but if there is a gateway recipe to an appreciation of squash, this might be it. The apple cider adds the perfect amount of subtle fruity sweetness to balance the "squashyness." The key to this recipe is making sure that the soup is really well blended, so the texture is completely creamy (in Mike’s memory, he could have sworn that the batch I made last year was a cream-based soup). Throw in a little cinnamon and your 12 year-old self might be looking at you funny, too.

Apple Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash (aprox. 2lbs), seeded, peeled, and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup unsweetened apple cider
Cinnamon, to taste

Slice the squash in half length-wise, removing the seeds.  Place the halves cut side down in a glass baking dish and bake for 20 minutes at 350.  This should be just long enough to soften the squash, making it much easier to peel and cube. Cook onion in olive oil until soft and slightly browned (about 5 minutes).  Add cubed squash, cover, and cook 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.  Add broth and simmer until squash is softened (15 to 20 minutes).  Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender in small batches), blend with apple cider until smooth and creamy.  If desired, stir in a little cinnamon, to taste. 

Recipe adapted from The South Beach Diet Cookbook 

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