Apple-squash soup

Most apple soups use the apple as a background flavor for squash. This version uses apple as the main ingredient, with some squash to add a bit of body. The aromatics (onion and garlic) increase the savory levels, and the spices give the soup a mystery that makes it a joy to eat. Chinese five-spice powder and curry powder are both easily available at your local source for spices.

Makes: 8-12 servings, depending on bowl size

1 pound orange squash, cut in half and seeded (I used delicata, but acorn or butternut work just as well)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra to coat the squash

1 large onion, medium dice

6 large cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped

3 pounds mixed apples, medium dice (I used 3 each of the following: Cox orange, Macintosh, Fuji and Braeburn)

8 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra to use while cooking

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

finely minced chives for garnish (optional)

thinly sliced apple for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat the flesh of the squash with olive oil and place flesh side down on a sheet pan. Place the sheet pan in the hot oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the flesh is easily pierced by a pairing knife. Take out of the oven and let it cool to the touch. Scoop the squash out with a spoon and set aside until needed. In a large pot heated over medium-high heat, add the butter and olive oil, and stir until butter is melted and starts to bubble. Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the apples, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for five minutes. Add the stock, five spice powder, curry powder, and salt and pepper to the pot. Turn the heat up to high and bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Puree the soup in batches using a blender or a food processor. Serve immediately with chive and apple garnishes.

Tip: Switch out the Chinese five-spice powder with garam masala to let the flavors shift in a fragrant direction.

Photo and styling by John Houser III, for The Baltimore Sun
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