Every week, we spotlight a different food blogger who’s shaking up the blogosphere with tempting recipes and knockout photography. Below, Beth Kirby of Local Milk whips up an easy squash and apple soup that’s a perfect balance between sweet and savory.
2 pounds (32 ounces/1 med-large) butternut squash peeled, seeded, chopped to a 1-inch dice
1 pound (16 ounces/2 medium) firm, tart apples (I used honeycrisp) cored and chopped to a 1-inch dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked salt, plus extra for seasoning
2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped (about ¾ to 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
50 ml (about ¼ cup) apple brandy or Calvados
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon raw honey
50 milliliter (¼ cup) cream
Roasted pepitas and honey roasted sunflower seeds for garnish (optional)
Fennel frond or fresh thyme for garnish (optional)
Heat the oven to 450°F. On a large sheet tray, toss the apples and squash with the olive oil and one teaspoon of smoked salt. Roast on the middle rack for 20 minutes, or until the biggest pieces are cooked through and fork tender. Move the tray to the upper rack, turn on the broiler, and broil the squash and apples until just brown.
Meanwhile, as the veggies roast, melt the butter in a medium stock pot over medium-low heat. Let it get a little brown, but not too dark or it will burn. Add the shallots, garlic, and a generous, three finger pinch of the smoked salt. Sweat until fragrant and translucent, about five minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
Add the brandy and the fresh thyme and simmer until the alcohol cooks off and the brandy is reduced by half. It should look nice and jammy. By this point, your roasted veggies should just about be ready to come out.
Add the roasted veggies to the pot with the aromatics and top with the chicken stock, honey, and one more three finger pinch of smoked salt. Give it a good stir, bring it to a low simmer, and cook covered for about ten minutes to let the flavors mingle.
Remove the lid, and, using a stick blender, puree the soup. Alternately, you can puree the soup in a regular blender and add it back to the pot.
Once pureed, stir in the cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding additional salt or honey if needed. If you find it too thick for your taste, you can thin it with additional stock or cream.
Garnish as desired, and serve.