As a child, snow days are these exciting gifts from Mother Nature. Snow days are a free pass to play in the snow until you are cold enough to retreat back indoors to hot chocolate with swimming Teddy Grahams. Fast forward a few years and snowstorms become a huge inconvenience – the hype, the shoveling, the shopping for that last gallon of milk. Inevitably, most of us lose that little-kid anticipation that surrounds the nightly weather report.
Well, Wednesday I had my first exciting snow day in a very, very long time. Being from a town in New England, I am no stranger to snow, and the four inches of snow that fell on Cincinnati a few days ago would not have even prompted concern back home. Somehow, however, I found myself with a school-free day and I was not going to complain! I let myself sleep in a little, made myself some French press, and eventually ventured out with a couple of friends to do something I never learned as a kid – I went roller skating.
It was not graceful. Or pretty. I even fell a few times. Despite it all, I let go of that adult fear of falling and just let myself have fun. It reminded me that as we get older, we sometimes forget that we can always get back up. It seems silly, but it was inspiring to be connected with that fearless inner-child that hides under all of my daily responsibilities. I know my Friday anecdotes are always food-related, but today I wanted to share that inspiration with you – you are only given so many snow days, why not go out and play?
Since it just wouldn’t be Recipe Friday without sharing a recipe from my arsenal, I am going to share a great snow day soup with you all. With spring (hopefully!) around the corner, I’ve been finding myself clinging to the last of my favorite wintertime produce. This winter squash soup has evolved over several years until I finally achieved exactly what I was aiming for. Roasting the squash prior to adding it to the soup takes a little extra time, but releases a caramel-sweetness that is worth the wait. The delicious smell that fills your home is just an added bonus.
Winter Squash and Apple Soup
Makes about 6 servings
1 large butternut squash
1 large acorn squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large apple (I used granny smith), peeled, cored, chopped
1 – 1.5 quarts low sodium vegetable stock
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Curry powder
¼ tsp white pepper
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne (optional)
¼ dash nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut squashes lengthwise and seed with a spoon. Place flesh-side down onto baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray. Roast in oven at 400 degrees F until tender for 30-50 minutes, depending on size and oven. (Note that the acorn squash will be done before the butternut!) When done, remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, scoop squash into a bowl and set aside, discarding skins.
Heat oil in the bottom of a large stock pot. Sweat onions and garlic until translucent; add salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 cup of the broth and apple, bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes until apple is soft. Add the remainder of stock, water, squash pulp, curry powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, white pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper and stir. Heat thoroughly for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take from heat and let cool slightly. Blend mixture in a food processor or blender and return to pot. ( You may have to do this is batches, in which case you will need to transfer the soup into a large bowl, blend, and then return to the empty pot.) Add more water or stock until the soup is desired texture; season additionally if desired. Lasts about a week in the fridge, but you may need to add stock or some water to loosen it while reheating.
So, that’s it for this week. Have a delicious weekend!
Until next time, remember that… there are no excuses when it comes to your health!