Food: Its Autumn, pass the apple soup
Editor’s note: Mary Ann is on vacation this week out enjoying the fall weather. She will return next week to resume her duties of writing this column.
This is my favorite time of year. It always has been even when I was little kid.
I am not sure what draws me so much to fall. So as I sit here at my desk in a mild panic as I once again try to come up with something for this column worthy of following in Mary Ann’s footsteps I am forced to define what about this season I love.
I enjoy the cooling weather as it has always been my preference over the hottest days of summer and the coldest days of winter. The colors on the trees, the animals heading to their winter homes and the ripening of pumpkins and apples are all appealing.
But this is a food column and aptly so, I guess the best thing about fall is the food.
I may have already mentioned it but apples come ripe in this time of year and if you don’t know what to do with an apple in terms of food preparation, then you have been missing out on a lot.
My wife makes an unbelievable stove top applesauce that barely survives its cooling period as my children and I converge on the steaming pot almost as soon as she takes it off the burner.
I love to make what I call an apple crunch which is a cross between apple crisp and apple pie with a special crust that I borrowed from a tort recipe.
Speaking of apple pie, I grew up with my mother’s Dutch Apple pie that was always the hit of our family Thanksgiving dinners. There are more than 100 people on my mom’s side of the family so being the hit in that crowd was no small feat. In fact, my cousin Karen, who lived in Indiana at the time would spend Thanksgiving vacation at our house, I suspect to have easy access to that pie.
But the apple’s versatility does not end or begin with deserts. Slice apples and prepare with pork chops, or cut up with chicken and sweet potatoes in a skillet. The apple can go with anything.
My favorite way to use the apple (besides desert of course) is in soups. To me soup is another distinctly fall dish. It goes well in winter too, but after a long summer of not wanting gut warming meals, soup in the fall is a special treat.
And there is no better ingredient than apples when making a soup. One of my favorites is mulligatawny. For those of you who are Seinfeld fans, you have heard that name on the Soup Nazi episodes. But it is a delicious, heart warming meal with apples as one of the main ingredients.
But for this column and the one I would like to share with you today is one my wife came upon and made for us recently. Sweet Potato-Apple soup.
This soup captures the essence of fall. The smell of it cooking on the stove is enough of a reason to make it. Served with sweet potato chips, this soup combines salty and sweet in a warm, filling way.
3 medium sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups applesauce (can be homemade or store bought)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel and dice 2 1/2 sweet potatoes. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, nutmeg, 1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until toasted, 1 more minute.
Add the diced sweet potatoes, chicken broth and 2 cups water to the pot, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir in the applesauce. Simmer, covered, until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Puree the soup with a immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the remaining 1/2 sweet potato and toss with the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon curry powder and cook, stirring, until browned; remove from the heat and add the vinegar. Top with the curry butter, cilantro and sweet-potato chips.