Have you noticed over the years that when late summer and early fall come along that you’re craving soup even though it may not be cold weather? I sure have. I have started to get that fall feeling, when I wake early in the morning, just before daylight as the sun is about to rise. It’s a little cool and crisp then, even though by the time the sun is high in the sky it will be hot again.
When I think of fall soups, butternut squash is the first one that comes to my mind. Butternut squash is in all the markets right now and in some home gardens already. When this hard skinned vegetable is cooked it turns into a beautiful gold color, and in soup it takes on a rich velvety taste with a hint of sweetness.
This particular recipe is an old Southern Living recipe but I have updated the topping. It’s one of my favorites because it has all of the flavors of fall with squash, apples, pecans and seasonings of nutmeg and cinnamon. This is the perfect fall soup and one that will take you through the seasons and the holidays as a wonderful first course for a holiday dinner.
Creamed Butternut Squash Soup with Apples & Toasted Pecans
1 (2-1/2 pound) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3/4 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and quartered *
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until squash is (very) tender. Discard cinnamon stick.
Process half the squash mixture in container of an electric blender (or use an emulsion blender to puree). Repeat with the remaining squash and return to the Dutch oven.
Stir in half and half and next 5 ingredients. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until heated through. Serve hot. Garnish. Makes 9 cups.
To garnish soup:
Sauté 3/4 cup slightly chopped pecans in 2 tablespoons butter and 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar until pecans are slightly toasted. Add a dash of nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon to the pecan mixture. Turn out onto a plate to stop the cooking.
Chop one Granny Smith apple.
Add soup to bowl or cup. Add a small dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche (optional), a tablespoon of chopped apple and pecans to taste. Serve immediately.
There's really no better time to visit the great public gardens than spring into summer, but why not get off the horticultural highway and see a few lesser known gardens, too! Dotting the country are some truly remarkable places that you may not have heard of but that you need to see.
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