This year I have not had a single squash or pumpkin. (Well, not true, I have two pumpkins but they’re so small that I really don’t think they’re going anywhere.) I must have underestimated the amount of water they needed in our long dry summer. So thank goodness for Apple Boy.
Apple Boy (and his uncle Apple Man) sell the best organic apples in Umbria. But also wonderful butternut squash – perfect for this soup which tastes of end-of-summer.
Butternut squash – 1 small-ish
Granny Smith apple – 2
Onion – 2 medium
Potatoes – 2 medium
Garlic – 2 cloves
Chilli – fresh, to taste
Vegetable stock, or water and one stock cube
Peel and slice the onions and garlic finely, and put them in a saucepan with a couple of fine strips of fresh chilli and enough water just to cover it all. Boil gently until the onion is transparent.
In the mean time, peel and dice the squash and the apple, removing the seeds from the former and the core from the latter. I like Granny Smith apples for this recipe: it gives the soup a tangy sharpness. But any strongly flavoured cooking apple will do. Peel and chop the potatoes too.
Put the fruit and vegetables in with the onions and add sufficient stock, or water and a stock cube, to cover them abundantly. Bring everything to a gentle boil and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft – about 15 minutes. Use a stick blender to turn the soup into a smooth cream, remembering to remove the strips of chilli beforehand if you don’t want your soup too spicy.
At this point you may have such an unmanageable glug in the bottom of your saucepan that you’ll need to dilute it. The end result should be creamily thick – and a glorious mango orange colour. Put the saucepan back over a low heat and add water/stock gradually, stirring until you achieve the perfect consistency.
I like this soup served with a little crumbled feta cheese on top: its sharpness contrasts well with the sweetness of squash and apple. A sprinking of finely chopped fresh chives is good too… on this and just about everything.
© Anne Hanley, 2012