Meatless Monday – Slow Cooker Winter Squash and Apple Soup


Hello everyone, Jess here.  Happy Columbus day to you!

Today we were enjoying the holiday and were off and running, a good day for the slow cooker!

This recipe is very forgiving (if I had a nickel for every time I say that on this website) and there are many flavors to tweak to get it just to your liking.  In fact, I dare not call it a recipe as it’s more of a how-to, with many options, depending on what you are working with.  Let’s break it down.

I usually automatically start with 2 bricks (cups) of veggie broth.  One small butternut or one large acorn squash usually provides a nice consistency to the soup. If you have the time to halve and roast your winter squash a bit before adding it to the slow cooker, I think it’s even better as it allows the natural flavors in the squash an opportunity to peak. It also makes skin removal a little easier, though it’s not really too difficult compared to the hardened squashes in many markets. You can even start with frozen bricks of squash purée (remember when we made lots of those earlier in the year?) One large or two small carrots adds a nice brightness.  One chopped onion brings a punch of flavor, and a couple of cloves of garlic rounds things out.

The herbs and spices I like to play with include sage, grated ginger, white pepper, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, salt, cayenne pepper or red curry paste.  Used with care, these can compliment the soup in many different ways. Remember that adding a little at a time is the best way to go.  Start with small amounts of the spices of your choice, give it a taste after cooking and blending, and if it still needs something, add it at the end.  Tonight I wanted a bit more sweetness and added some homemade cinnamon applesauce to the puree.  

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These crisped up sage leaves in butter are a wonderful addition to this soup. I equate the crispness and buttery flavor of these leaves to a piece of bacon.

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Simply lay them on a cookie sheet with melted butter and roast them for a few.

The soup’s creaminess can be provided using heavy cream, coconut milk, or even just a creamy potato or two.  

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Once you’ve gathered your ingredients in your cooker, eight hours on low is great (personally I think slow and low is the way to go but 4 hours on high would also do the trick).  I usually like to drizzle a small spoonful of cream or coconut milk on the soup when serving it.  A hearty and/or crusty bread always brings this home.  image

Slow Cooker Winter Squash and Apple Soup
 
This is a foundation on which to build your perfect soup. The squash, creaminess medium, and the spices are negotiable. As always make it your own!
Ingredients
  • 1 medium butternut squash, 1 large acorn squash, squash puree, or other winter squash. Cubed, peeled and seed removed (roasting the squash is optional but good)
  • 2 cups of veggie broth
  • 1 large carrot peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled cored and coarsely chopped
  • 6 sage leaves crisped in butter, or a fresh sprig
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 heavy dash of white pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg
  • cayennne pepper to taste
  • 2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped (save skins for veggie broth)
  • or
  • ¾ cup plus ¼ cup of coconut milk
  • or
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • sour cream as an optional garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients (except for coconut milk or cream if using) and slow cook on low for 8 hours, high on 4 hours. Puree until smooth using an immersion blender or transferring in batches to a blender. Taste and blend in additional ingredients as needed (add larger portions of cream or coconut milk at this time, if using). Applesauce can be added if you crave more apple flavor, brown sugar or maple syrup if you desire more sweetness, cayenne if you crave more spice, etc. When in the serving bowl, drizzle with the smaller portions of cream or coconut milk, or dollop with sour cream.

 


About Jess

Jess Anderson is the creator of CSA|365 and is passionate about the local food movement. A long time member of Springdell and a busy mother of two, Jess loves keeping her family fed by honest local food.

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