butternut squash, honeycrisp apple and tahini soup

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Happy Monday! Is there any better way to enjoy Sunday than going to the farmers market and then spending the afternoon cooking at home? For me, the answer is obvious.

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Sundays give me the luxury to take care with each step of my cooking projects – I have time to go to the farmers market and peruse the Red Jacket apple selection before settling on Honeycrisps. The process of peeling, coring and chopping butternut squash, honeycrisp apples, onions, shallots and garlic is my meditation. I have more time to really think about what I’m making and how everything tastes. I can start frying the squash seeds in olive oil and a pinch of crunchy salt, then realize that a splash of soy sauce would give them the extra umami kick I’m after. Then, while I’m waiting for everything to cook down, for the flavors to merge together (while listening to this recent episode of This American Life), I clean my working area and prep for the next steps – plating, serving and eating my creation. By the time my kitchen is fresh and clean, the whole apartment is fragrant with warm, autumnal veggies, my stomach is rumbling and I’m ready to put the final touches on my soup – a swirl of tahini, a sprinkle of goat cheese, a few fried squash seeds and a pinch of celery fronds. And best of all, I sit and have a Sunday meal at home, far from the noise of work or brunch lines, and a midday glass of red wine close at hand.

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This recipe is my take on the HVRW recipe from Chef Tom Costello of Thyme Restaurant in Yorktown Heights, NY. Try Chef Tom’s version, or mine, or take some time and make it your own. And don’t forget to check out all of the restaurants participating in Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, which is in full swing until November 15.

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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 cup medium diced celery
  • 1 shallot, small diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced 
  • 2 small or one large butternut squash, chopped
  • 2 medium Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and chopped (if you don’t have Honeycrisp, try Gala or any other apple that’s not super acidic)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 splash red wine vinegar
  • 1 splash soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini plus a teaspoon for swirling around before serving
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Soft goat cheese or creme fraiche, to garnish
  • Fried squash seeds, to garnish
  • A pinch of celery fronds, to garnish

Instructions

  • In a large stockpot, heat oil over low heat
  • Add onions, celery and shallot. Throw on a couple pinches of crunchy salt. Sweat, uncovered over low heat for 15 minutes. Stir often, making sure the vegetables do not caramelize.
  • Meanwhile, peel and chop squash and apple, removing the seedy center of each
  • Add garlic to the stockpot. Stir and allow to cook for a few minutes, then add apples and squash to the stockpot plus another pinch of salt. Stir and let it cook for a few more minutes.
  • Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over medium-high heat for 30 minutes, or until the squash and apples are tender.
  • Allow to cool slightly (but not totally – the warmth will help the ingredients blend smoothly), then puree the mixture using a food processor or a hand blender until very smooth. Add a splash of vinegar, soy sauce and the tahini. Stir, taste, and salt to taste.
  • Add garnishes and serve warm with hunks of bread (and if it’s Sunday) cups of wine.

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    Caitlin Gunther

    Twitter: @back2spain Website: back2spain.com Read Full
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