Do you know the difference between availability and seasonality?
Have you been to the farmer’s market lately?
Answering these simple questions can change your direction as a cook and you might even find your food tastes better, much better. Here in Southern California, because of our Mediterranean climate, the transition from summer to fall is a little slower than most other places where the weather has already changed dramatically. There are farmer’s still selling strawberries and pushing out the last crop of heirloom tomatoes and peaches. Of course it is nothing compared to the bounty of summer, but like a street vendor trying to sell you a knock off Gucci purse, they are nonetheless, trying to convince you that their fruit is delicious and you have to take it home. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to eat peaches in October any more than I want to see Santa Claus on the 4th of July! I’m ready for fall food and have no appetite for spring asparagus or summer berries.
Remember- just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Apples are a perfect example of availability vs. seasonality. There is never a shortage of apples, an apple picker’s strike, or ever a fear they might run out. You can pretty much find apples everywhere from the grocery store to a Mc Donald’s Happy Meal – apples are available twelve months out of the year. Right now is apple season and there is no comparison to the flavor of an in seasonapple. If you have ever bit into a crisp, perfectly sweet, tart, juicy, apple that drips down your chin- then you know what I’m talking about. These are just a few of my favorites; Braeburn, Jonathan, Jonagold, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Cameo, and Jazz.
This apple squash soup is a staple on my fall menu, both my clients and family adore it. I’ve tried many different ways over the years to perfect the combining of these simple ingredients- simmering, sweating, thickening, pureeing… The method I ended up with that produced the best flavor? …roasting. I roast the onions, squash and apples to caramelize the natural sugars, and then puree everything with a bit of broth, season … and it’s done. It’s a warm and comforting balance of sweet and savory flavors with just a slight earthiness from the herbs. It’s wonderful with a basket of crusty bread for lunch or paired up with some spicy bratwurst or chicken apple sausages for dinner.
Roasted Apple and Squash Soup with Fresh Thyme serves 6 dinner size portions3 pound butternut squash- peeled, seeded and cut into large dice pieces
4 sweet/tart apples- peeled, cored, and cut into large dice pieces
1 cup yellow or white onion- cut into large pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sage4 cups low sodium chicken broth1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Adjust rack to the upper third of the oven
Place squash, apples, and onions onto a lined baking sheet
Toss with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and sage
Place into the oven and roast for approximately 15-20 minutes or until fork tender and slightly golden brown
Remove from the oven and place half of the roasted, onions apples and squash in a blender
Carefully puree in batches with chicken broth and pour into a large soup pot
Simmer soup over low heat and season with nutmeg, thyme leaves and adjust seasoning with the last teaspoon of salt
If soup is too thick it can be adjusted with additional chicken broth or water