Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Cider and Vanilla
We’re back from Miami, and the great Thanksgiving weekend eating fest is over. Right? It has to be. We ate huevos con tortilla, tres leches, gallopinto, pastelitos de pollo, my dad’s new recipe for chicken with sage, tostadas, pork buns, and so much more. My mom and madrina packed our car with more gallopinto, vaca frita, carne con papa, nacatamales, masas de puerco, and a slice of lasagna. The fridge is full and my freezer is at the ready! As a bonus, we returned to find our little herb garden is still alive and well.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving break and that now you’re in the mood for soup. This is a butternut squash soup with apple cider and vanilla bean from Molly Wizenberg‘s memoir, A Homemade Life. The squash soup is brightened with the flavors of apple cider and pear. Yes, the cream is infused with vanilla bean, which isn’t as weird as you may first think if you remind yourself that after all it is a spice. The cream tones down the fruity sweetness, and the final addition of fresh chives adds a savory onion flavor that makes the soup even better.
That bright orange color is enough to make me happy, but then this soup just tastes so good. I kept wanting more. One more spoonful. One more bowl? It’s a very nice way to welcome yourself back home.
butternut squash soup with apple cider and vanilla
It may be difficult to have just one bowl of this soup. It’s creamy, light, and comforting, and you’ll always want just a bit more.
3 tablespoons olive oil
one 2-pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups) with seeds reserved for another use
2 ripe yet firm pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half
1 vanilla bean
finely chopped fresh chives
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Stir in the squash, pears, and onion to coat with oil. Cook and stir occasionally until the onion is soft and transparent and the pears are starting to fall apart, 10 to 15 minutes.
Pour in the cider and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let simmer partially covered until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until very smooth. (If using a regular blender, work the soup in batches and only fill the blender jar up to a third of its size because hot liquids expand). Add the salt and cook soup uncovered over medium-low heat until the soup reduces to about half or a third of its original volume. Stir occasionally. The soup’s ready when it’s a consistency that looks right to you, not too thin or thick.
As the soup continues to cook, pour the cream into a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a small sharp knife and use the spine to scrape out the tiny beans. Place the vanilla beans and the pod in the saucepan with the cream and warm it over low heat until it steams, swirling occasionally. Do not let it boil. Remove saucepan from the heat and discard the pod. Whisk if necessary to break up any clumps of seeds.
Stir the vanilla-infused cream into the soup when it’s thickened enough to your liking. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Serve soup with a sprinkling of chives. Store any leftovers in the fridge knowing that it will taste even better in the next day or two.
Serves 4 to 5. Recipe from “A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg.