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April, 2013

April, 2013

Roasted Winter Squash and Apple Soup with Smoked Chili and Fried Sage
By Heidi Allison

This soup also packs a nutritional punch, and is an excellent source of beta carotene, an antioxidant that is important for vision, bone growth, cell function, reproduction, as well as a healthy immune system.

Winter SquashThis soup has a sophisticated flavor profile that seduces your palate— rich and complex, with an underpinning of sweetness, and hints of smoke, heat and sage. Comforting, yet refined, this cleaver soup gets its subtle sweet taste from slow-roasting the apples, butternut and kabocha squashes, and caramelizing the sweet yellow onions which develops hidden dimensions of flavor and brings up all the natural sugars. The sweet potato intensifies creamy texture created by the roasted, pureed veggies and fruit, which act to mimic the mouthfeel of cream—sans the artery-clogging saturated fat, while the roasted red pepper intensifies its rich, deep color. This dish is your new “go-to” for elegant dinner parties, or, weekdays alike! Paired with a green salad, it’s an easy way to get in your “5-A-Day” in --without compromise!

The secret ingredient that takes this dish from merely good to sublime is the Pinot Grigio — it acts as the backnote that tempers this dishes’ naturally sweet taste, but-- without being overly acidic. This fruity white wine ties all the sweet vegetable flavors together into a complex, yet cohesive whole, while adding a classy, uptown flair to the dish. (Without wine—this dish is one-dimensional, monotone and flat). Although a Chardonnay or Blanc will do—it’s the Pinot’s lack of a mineral aftertaste, or harshness, that acts as the perfect counterpoint flavor to the sweet tasting roasted veggies. The fried sage adds a bit of textural crunch , while the smoky chipotle chili imparts a subtle hit of heat!

This soup also packs a nutritional punch, and is an excellent source of beta carotene, an antioxidant that is important for vision, bone growth, cell function, reproduction, as well as a healthy immune system. Beta carotene may also reduce your risk for breast cancer. Moreover, winter squashes are good sources of the vitamin C, and supply some B vitamins (niacin, folate and thiamine) , in addition to fiber.

Roasted Winter Squash and Apple Soup with Smoked Chili and Fried Sage
Serves: 6 as an entrée


Roasted Winter Squash and Apple Soup with Smoked Chili and Fried Sage
Ingredients:
2 Red Bell Peppers
2 Yellow Onions, sliced
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large Butternut Squash
1 Kabocha Squash
1 medium Sweet Potato, pierced several times with a fork
2 large Organic Apples (Gala, Empire, Braeburn or Cameo Apples), cored
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
5 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Pinot Grigio Wine
½ Tablespoon Chipotle Power (or 2 teaspoon sauce from canned chipotle chili adodbo)
½ teaspoon Dried Sage
4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4-5 sprigs of Fresh Sage
Chipotle or Morita Chili Powder

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place red bell peppers over trivet on a gas stove, and turn heat to high. Allow skin to blister and blacken before turning pepper with tongs, repeat until all sides are blackened. Remove pepper and wrap in a damp kitchen towel, and allow to steam for 15 minutes. Remove blackened skin with your fingers (do not rinse under water), remove seeds and stem , then set aside to cool. Cut into large pieces.

Cut butternut and kabocha squash in half, and remove seeds. Rub cut side with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher flake salt, then place cut side down on a large, foil-lined baking sheet and cook in oven for 25 minutes.

Remove squashes from oven. Add onions to a large bowl and toss with 2 tbs. of olive oil and sprinkle of K flake salt. Toss to combine and place on baking sheet around squashes. Place sweet potato and cored apples on another baking foil-lined baking sheet, and put 1½ teaspoons of unsalted butter into each apple core-hole. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until apples are soft and skin is splitting and onions are caramelizing.

Remove veggies from oven and allow to cool. Remove skin from apples and scoop out squash flesh from skin with a spoon. Place all veggies/apples into a large pot and add chicken stock, wine, sage, chipotle pepper; then heat on medium until hot.

Transfer soup mixture, in batches, to a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with k salt and black pepper.

Place olive oil in 8-inch skillet and heat on medium till hot. Add sage and flash-fry until color starts to turn dark green—about 5 seconds; then drain on a paper towel. Reserve sage-flavored oil.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with a drizzle sage oil, a sprinkle of chipotle powder and top with fried sage; then serve.

Notes from the Author:
This soup freezes well. Use Morita chili power for a stronger smoky taste and kick!