squash and apple soup

I like to make a big pot of this on a Sunday afternoon and then I have it for the week. And it freezes well, so you can freeze as individual servings and then defrost for a quick lunch or dinner at a later date. You can make this soup spicier if you like, or eliminate the cayenne altogether if you prefer it milder. Sometimes I will add a dash of maple syrup to the pureed soup, just for a little Canadian flare.

2 tbsp unsalted butter (or 2 tbsp olive oil)
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium-sized butternut squash, skin and seeds removed, roughly cut into cubes
2 medium-sized apples – choose something that is a combination of sweet and tart like Spy or Fuji
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch all spice
pinch cayenne
5 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper

To garnish: 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, handful toasted pumpkin seeds (if preparing for a vegetarian or vegan crowd, you can omit the yogurt)

TIP: To make whole squash easier to work with, cut in half and remove seeds with a spoon or ice cream scoop. Place squash cut side down on baking sheet lined with tin foil. Bake in 400F oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool. This softens the squash and makes it much easier to remove the skin.

Melt butter over medium heat in large pot (or heat oil if using instead). Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add cinnamon, allspice and cayenne and stir into softened onions. You can always add more cayenne later so don’t overdo it.

Add the squash and apples to put and toss to combine with onions and spices. Add brown sugar. Pour 4 cups of the vegetable stock into the pot. Add fresh thyme.

Simmer for 20 minutes. Using a fork, test to see if squash and apple are fully softened. Both should be tender enough to easily insert fork all the way through. Continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes if squash and apple are not fully cooked.

Remove from heat. Blend until smooth with a hand blender. Add more cayenne if you like a little more spice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You can adjust thickness with remaining vegetable stock.

Return to heat to warm before serving. Spoon soup into individuals bowls. Add a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds.