It’s actually squash, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, and apple soup

As the weather gets colder, and my obsession with fishing gets more difficult to satisfy out in the cold, my fall cooking season is starting in earnest. I’m not done fishing for the year, but the weather is getting nastier and nastier… I’ve got to start doing some activities to replace my constant fishing fix. Cooking works great!

This is my combination of a bunch of different dishes I’ve had and really enjoyed. The inspiration for this dish comes from 3 places: 1) the squash and sweet potato soup from Big Bowl (it’s very tasty, I highly recommend you get it) 2) A parsnip and apple soup Claire and I had on our honeymoon, and 3) A root vegetable purée from Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Don’t let the possibly strange combination of squash and onion and apple turn you off- this is definitely worth trying. I think it’s delicious! I was at the grocery store and saw some beautiful squash; here’s what I did with it.

Squash – I used a big butternut squash grown by the good folks in Hudsonville, Michigan
Sweet potato – I used a single big one
Carrots – 2-3 would be good
Parsnip – I used just one, but adding more would be good too
Apple – we had a single golden delicious left in the fridge, and it was an excellent choice
Onion – I almost always use white onion
Garlic – you can never use too much
Stock or water – I didn’t have any stock, I used plain old water
Oil – I used olive oil
Ginger, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper
A splash of coconut milk would probably be great; some garam masala or curry powder would also be good
Oven – for roasting (this isn’t completely necessary, but it concentrates the flavors)
Big pot – for making the soup – I used a dutch oven
Bean masher or immersion blender, or both, or just a regular blender – to get the soup thick and smooth
Roasted parsnip and carrots
1) Roast the squash, sweet potato, carrots, and parsnip in a 400°F oven for about an hour (rub oil on the veggies and season with salt and pepper before roasting). You want everything to be soft and easily mashable. You’ll probably want to take the carrots and parsnip out earlier than an hour. I cut the squash in two, and roasted it cut-side up, but you could also dice it and roast it that way. I didn’t bother peeling the carrots or parsnips, but I peeled the sweet potato. Would probably be easier if you didn’t peel that…
2) Once the veggies are roasted, get some diced onions sizzling in your big pot with some oil
3) When the onions are nice and sautéed, add a bunch of minced garlic and cook for about a minute
Roasted squash (I shouldn’t have made
those cuts- made it hard to get the flesh out)
4) Mash up the roasted veggies (not the squash skin or sweet potato peel) and add to the pot
5) Add your liquid (stock or water) to the big pot, stir
6) Simmer
7) If you want it to be nice and smooth, use a bean masher, an immersion blender, or a regular blender. Careful! Blending hot liquids can be dangerous! I first used a bean masher to get the veggie chunks to a workable size, then I busted out my immersion blender to get everything nice and smooth
I caught an immersion blender-
must be about a 25-incher
8) Once the mixture is super creamy smooth, season with whatever seasonings you want. I used ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and cumin
9) Taste, adjust seasonings. If the mixture is too liquidy, let it simmer with the lid off
for a while… But watch out for little explosions! Bubbles rising up from a thick liquid like this can be mini burning hot volcanos of scalding lava. I speak from experience.
10) Once you’re happy with the consistency and flavor, turn off the heat and stir in some RAW diced apple. Yes, raw! The remaining heat in the soup will partially cook it, and it will keep some of that nice crunchy apple texture. If you want a completely smooth soup without bits of apple in it, either don’t add the apple, or add it before you blend the soup
11) Ladle into a bowl, garnish with more raw diced apple on top
Adding the diced apple
– Cook some bacon, dice it up, put it back in the soup after you blend the veggies
– Next time I make this, I will most definitely add some puréed ancho or guajillo chile. Maybe even some fresh green chile too.
– Add a splash of coconut milk – the soup already has a hint of coconut even though there’s none in it! This could be good
– Some similar recipes call for turmeric; although I don’t think it adds too much flavor, it would make the soup a brighter orange color
– Add garam masala or curry powder – lots of squash soup recipes call for curry powder. I’m not sure exactly why, but it could work
– Add the onions after you blend the veggies, so you get more texture in the soup
– Some potato in the mix would probably be great; or turnips, rutabagas, any root vegetable would be a nice addition
– Some recipes call for the addition of a dairy product like yogurt, milk, cream, etc. I really don’t think this is necessary; the soup is super creamy on it’s own, and if you cook it with water or veggie stock and hold the pork, our vegan friends can enjoy it too.

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