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COOKING LOCAL Spicy Apple Soup

October 07, 2011

    Welcome

back to the kitchen. Friends, it is definitely fall out there. We’ve had the cold nights, rainy days, and

even the dusting of snow up at higher elevations to prove it. I don’t know about you, but fall weather, and

especially rain, often makes me want to curl up under a nice heavy blanket with a crappy movie and hopefully

someone snuggly to watch it with.
    Of course this little snapshot of domestic bliss can

only be improved by the addition of some warm and comforting home made food. I’m looking for something

simple, seasonal, and of course delicious.
    One local ingredient you are going to be

seeing a lot of in my recipes over the next several months is apples. This is because apples store well, and are

one of the staple crops that will help us eat locally all through the cold seasons. Plus, we live in the so-called

apple capitol, so we might as well embrace it in our recipes as well!
    There are plenty of

dessert recipes that make use of sweet apples, and I’m pretty well convinced that apple pie is the one

dessert to rule them all. But today I want to play off the apples natural sweetness with some spicy and savory

notes. I’m actually thinking of a creamy and earthy spicy curry apple soup, bolstered with potatoes, celery,

onions, and maybe some carrots. In truth, this is a creamy autumn veggie soup that includes some apples, but I

think it sounds more exotic if we make it sounds like they are the star of the show, and their tart sweetness will

certainly shine through.
    I think a big steaming pot of this will be a perfect way to

welcome in autumn’s chill. And ideally we wills serve it with some garlic crostini and a fall spinach salad

with pears and blue cheese. Yum!
    Now the real trick to any soup is making sure you have a

good base, or stock. Today we are going to be making a vegetarian soup, although you certainly could use chicken

stock if you’ve got it. So for a veggie based soup we need to make sure we use some flavorful ingredients.

I’m going to fall back on the old faithful classic of mirepoix, which is derived from French cuisine and is

the holy trinity of onions, carrots, and celery. This will give a flavorful and comfortingly familiar backbone to

our spicy apple soup.
    And we will use a blender or food processor to make the soup nice

and creamy before serving. Actually, for a soup like this a hand blender is the perfect tool. They are fairly

inexpensive, if you are inspired to purchase one.
    I thin it would be nice to top this

soup with some roasted apple slices and a swirl of plain yogurt. Some other recipes call for a swirl of cream, but

I prefer the lower fat tanginess of the yogurt to play off the Indian curry notes.

   

So for our autumn Spicy Curry Apple Soup we’ll need:

-4 fresh local apples, any variety will do,

cored and chopped
-2 onions, peeled and chopped and/or chopped leek whites or shallots (both would be a

delicious addition, and it is hard to overdo the onion family of ingredients in a soup like this)
-2 large

carrots, chopped
-2-3 celery stalks, chopped
-2 large russet potatoes, chopped
-1 large sweet

potato, peeled if desired and also chopped (you can also substitute more carrots instead)
-2 cloves garlic,

peeled and chopped
-roughly 2 teaspoons of grated ginger, or more if you are a ginger fan like me
- a

pinch of nutmeg (fresh ground if possible)
-1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
-1 tablespoon garam masala or

other spicy curry powder
-salt and pepper to taste
-about 8 cups water or vegetable stock (if using

stock, go easy on adding salt), you could also substitute a cup or two of apple juice or apple cider for some of

the water or stock, but you may find that too much will overly sweeten your soup
-about 2 tablespoons olive

oil
-1 cup yogurt and fresh chopped chives, parsley, or cilantro, for garnish
   

/>    In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions (plus leeks or shallots

if using) over a medium high heat. After a few minutes, stir the onions and turn down the heat to medium or medium

low and add the celery and carrots. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the ginger

and garlic. You don’t need these mirepoix veggies to be cooked all the way through, but we do want the

onions to be at least golden or translucent. What we are doing here is chemically altering some of the veggies

sulphurs and starches, and bringing out a delicious sautéed flavor for our soup base.

/>    Stir in the chopped apples, potatoes, and sweet potato. Next add all your spices, like the

curry powder, cumin, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. I might be tempted to add a little dried thyme or marjoram from

my garden as well, but I leave that up to you and your tongue to decide.
    Next add the

water, veggie stock, and/or apple cider. Basically you want at least enough liquid to cover over all the apples

and veggies, so add more water if you need to. Bring the soup up to a boil, but then immediately turn it well down

to just a simmer. I would probably cover the soup while it simmers. It should need to cook for bout 30 minutes, or

until the potatoes are tender.
    Now it is time to use that handy dandy hand blender, which

is great for pureeing hot soups because you can use it right in the pot and not worry about it flying everywhere

and burning you. But if you don’t have a hand blender and you are going to attempt the blender or food

processor, be careful! I recommend cooling your soup down a bit before trying this method. It’s ok to leave

some chunkiness to the soup, I like a little texture at least, and the starch in the potatoes can get a bit gummy

if you overdo it.
    Once your spicy curry apple soup is pureed up all nice and smooth, give

it a taste. Does it need a touch more salt? Could it stand a bit more curry powder to up the spice anti? And could

it stand a little bit more grated fresh ginger to give it even more of a kick? I like to add some of the fresh

ginger at this stage too, because it packs even more of a punch than when it is cooked, but be careful not to

overdo it.
    And there you have it, the basic idea for a delicious autumn soup! If you want

to roast some apple slices for a topping, just heat the oven to 400 and slice a baking apple or two fairly thin.

Toss the slices with some olive oil, cumin, and cinnamon and arrange them on a baking sheet. Bake for about 20

minutes, or until the apple slices are cooked all the way through and maybe even begin to lose a bit of their

water and crisp at the edges.
    We can also make some garlic crostini, basically baked

baguette or Italian bread toast slices (cut on a 45 degree angle), slathered in olive oil and garlic puree. And we

can toss together that spinach, pear, and blue cheese salad with a nice balsamic or apple cider vinegar

dressing.
    When you dish up the spicy apply soup, swirl in a dollop of plain yogurt (or

just let it sit in the center of the bowl. Float a few of the baked apple slices on that and sprinkle on some

chopped chives or parsley. Come to think of it, a little squeeze of fresh lime might be a deliciously tangy and

fresh balance for the sweet apple flavors, but that is optional. Beautiful! This is a comfortingly delicious soup

with some real exotic appeal as well. And feel free to make plenty, it will freeze well and keep in the fridge for

several days.
    Nice work everyone, I’d love to hear your favorite fall recipes and

how you are using this season’s apples. Send me any questions or comments to Isaac@kohoradio.com. Cooking

local in the KOHO Kitchen, I’m Isaac Kaplan-Woolner

 

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