winter squash soup with gruyere croutons

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Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons
Adapted from Bon Appétit, December 1996

Serves 8

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 14 1/2-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth
4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)*
4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)*
1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
24 1/4-inch-thick baguette bread slices
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage

For soup: Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth, all squash and herbs; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Return soup to same pot. Stir in cream and bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.)

For croutons: Preheat broiler. Butter 1 side of each bread slice. Arrange bread, buttered side up, on baking sheet. Broil until golden, about 1 minute. Turn over. Sprinkle cheese, then thyme and sage over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until cheese melts, about 1 minute. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with croutons and serve.

* If you are not confident in your knife skills or lack a very very sharp one, I’d suggest roasting the squash, halved and seeded, on a baking sheet coated lightly with oil at 425 until soft, scooping it into the pot, and cooking it the rest of the way there. Peeling, seeding and chopping raw squash is not the easiest endeavor. Alternatively, you could buy butternut squash already peeled and chopped in many stores. Haven’t seen acorn yet.

Deb’s Apple Crisp/umble
Or, evidence of why recipe-writing is not my forte.

1 deep pie dish, or frankly, any old dish you feel like baking in
1/4 peck of your favorite apples to bake with, or whatever the lady is selling that day
1 tablespoon flour
1-2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
A pinch of allspice

Peel, core and chop all of your apples, dropping the pieces in the baking dish as you go. I find that the quarter-peck fills a deep dish pie mold nicely; you might need more or less depending on your dish. Stir the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, sprinkle over the apples, and toss until the apples are evenly coated.

5-6 tablespoons unsalted or salted butter, your choice, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup dried oatmeal
Up to 1 cup all-purpose flour

Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and oatmeal into the melted butter. Now, here’s where all of your personal choice comes in. You could:

  • Add 1/3 of a cup of finely chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts.
  • Toast them first to deepen their flavor
  • Whirl the nuts in a food processor to get a fine meal, so they mend with the flour better and are less crunchy on top
  • Replace some or up to 1/2 the flour with whole wheat flour
  • Add more spices
  • Add more sugar – the amount I suggested will make it mildy, subtly sweet

Add flour a couple tablespoons at a time until the mixture forms a dry crumble. I find the more I add, as long as I don’t add so much that there is flour that can’t adhere at all, the better it comes out. Taste a clump, and adjust the sugar and spice to taste.

Sprinkle this over your apples and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and the apples underneath are bubbling in their thickened juices. If the top browns before this happens, cover it with foil until the apples are done.

Serve alone or with ice cream, whipped cream, creme fraiche, plain or vanilla yogurt or dusted with powdered sugar.

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