Autumn Soup? What else shall I call it? I have no idea. Normally I get really annoyed by recipes with titles like "Breakfast Hooray" and "Jimmy Boy's Favorite Stew" "Apples Phoenix" and other stupid things that mean nothing and do nothing to enlighten the reader to the contents of the meal.
However, although I prefer 'titles' that are merely descriptive, I fear this one would take up the whole recipe card. Even the trimmed-down version, Squash Apple Carrot Potato Maple Cream Cinnamon Chipotle Bacon Soup, is a little overwhelming. So, since everything in this soup reminds me of autumn, I guess I'll call it that, for now. But, didn't reading that long title make you curious? make your mouth water a little? make you want to try it? Recipe names are the perfect way to entice somebody; they're not the time for mystery and secrets. (This photo is from FoodChannel.com. Looks somewhat like mine, but more like yellow paint. Mine looks way better. But I ate all my Autumn Soup before I had a chance to photograph it. Sorry.)
Anyways, even though it does have a lot of ingredients, this soup is SUPER easy. Even better, this recipe begs for your own interpretation. This isn't even a recipe. *cue Pirates of the Caribbean* "It's really more like...guidelines." You can swap, add, delete, or substitute to your heart's content, because it's pretty much impossible to screw this up. I also like this soup because it more or less all happens in one pot (assuming your meat is already cooked). Use a knife, peeler and chopping block, and there's not a lot of dishes to clean later.
FYI, this post will also contain the greatest frequency of the word 'mush' of any blog I've written so far.
Sometimes I break this up into two days, but you could just as easily do it in one, if you have the time like on a Saturday.
Main ingredients as I often choose them:
- 1 roasted butternut squash (4-5 cups of squash mush) (also try other squashes and/or a can of pumpkin mush!)
- 2-3 big potatoes, peeled and diced (also try sweet potatoes)
- 2-4 carrots, ends removed, chopped into smallish bits
- 2 apples, skinned, cored and chopped smallish (also try apple sauce)
- 5-10 cloves of garlic, peeled
- Other ideas: parsnips, onions, zucchini (can't guarantee the beauty of the final product, though), eggplant, various chili peppers
- chicken or veggie broth
- apple cider/juice
- Garam masala if you have it
- Coriander seed powder if you have it
- Powdered ginger
- Curry powder
- Smoked paprika
- Chili powder
- Chipotle powder
- Salt and pepper (generously)
Animal flesh (choose one or the other, or leave out altogether):
- Diced ham
- Crumbled bacon
- Equal parts heavy cream and maple syrup, mixed together separately and drizzled on top of the soup when serving (you could sub brown sugar for the syrup)
- Roast squash and set aside the mush. (This is the part that takes an hour or two, so I usually roast it and put it in the fridge for another day. To roast it, just chop your squash in half longways, scrape out the seedy goopley part, brush cut areas with olive oil, and put in a pan with sides, cut side down, for an hour or more. I usually use one average sized squash per soup. After it's cooled, scrape the mush out of the skin and that's it.)
- Cook the other fruit/veggies (potatoes, apples, garlic cloves, carrots) in a big pot of water til soft and mushy. Drain, mostly. A little liquid left is fine.
- Put heat on medium low and add squash mush, liquids of choice, and a lot of your spices. Stir for a while, letting everything reduce into itself. Continually adjust liquids and spices to taste.
- Puree the whole kit and caboodle with an immersion blender* if you have one, or in batches in a regular blender. I like a really silky texture here, so I always blend it really well. You might be tempted to skip this step because it all looks pretty smooth by now, if you've been simmering and stirring, but...usually there are some squash strings still hanging around, yucky-like. If you like the slightly chunky texture, go for it, it'll kind of feel like applesauce in your mouth, but I think the pureed version really helps the flavors to melt together.
- Add meat, if using (I can attest to the tastiness of a bit of bacon or ham in that pot)
- Simmer a while longer, if you can stand the wait, to let those golden flavors melt together
- Top with the maple cream
This soup is SO good served with some crusty bread, maybe with a smear of apple butter on it. Oh, and following the general laws of soup, it's always better the next day! But don't let that stop you. Eat that lovely