Here's another great meatless recipe that includes some of our favorite veggies and fruits. We love making soups and stews of all sorts this time of year as they are great to have in the freezer for a quick weeknight meal when you just don't have time for anything else. Heat a pot full of soup, toss together a quick salad, warm a loaf of crusty bread, and all is good with the world.
Boris helped me to chop all of the luscious veggies for roasting, then had great fun pulverising the cooked soup to a silken purée. We decided to add some chopped roasted fennel and apple, along with a drizzle of heavy cream and chili oil as a garnish to top the blended soup. I would say that these additions are optional….but not really, they add a special touch to the texture and flavor of the soup that I'd hate for you to lose.
If this soup sounds appealing to you, you can find a similar one on the site that is a touch simpler and sweeter, using only butternut squash and apples (click here for that recipe). This soup was a big hit at the table though to be honest, Arthas who is a serious meat-eater and struggling a bit with our recent adoption of "Meatless Mondays", thinks it would be even better with a little crisp bacon sprinkled on top. Hard to argue with that brilliance, so if you're not eating this as a Meatless Monday meal, you may want to give that tip a try.
Cheers – Steve
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1" cubes
- 1 large, yellow or sweet onion, root trimmed, peeled and cut into wedges
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
- 2 fennel bulbs, fronds removed, cored and cut into wedges
- 2 tart apples such as granny smith, peeled, cored and cut into medium dice
- 2 celery stalks, finely minced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems and finely minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 7 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for garnish
- chives, snipped with scissors for garnish
- chili oil for garnish
- Heat the oven to 425℉.
- Lay out 2 sheet pans, one for the squash and carrots, one for the onion and fennel. Place the squash and carrot chunks in a large bowl, drizzle with some EVOO and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss well, then pour out onto one of the sheet trays, arranging in a single, even layer. Add the fennel and onion wedges to the same bowl and perform the same routine with EVOO and salt and pepper. Pour the fennel and onion onto the second sheet tray. Place both trays into the hot oven and roast the veggies until nicely browned, about 40-45 minutes, stirring the veggies about halfway through roasting. When the veggies are done remove them from the oven and pull 1/2 of the fennel aside to use as a garnish later.
- While the veggies are roasting, sauté the diced apples with a knob of butter in a non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook until lightly browned, but still slightly firm to the bite. Remove from the pan and reserve.
- In a large soup pot or dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons EVOO over medium heat. Add the minced celery and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add 1/2 of the sautéed apple (reserve the rest for garnish) and all of the roasted vegetables (except the fennel that you've pulled aside for garnish). Add the stock, thyme and bay leaf and increase the heat to high until the soup comes to a boil. Once a boil is established, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaf and purée the soup in a blender in batches. Return the blended soup to a clean pot, set over a low heat. Add the cream and a touch more stock if you feel the soup is too thick. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if desired.
- To serve, chop the reserved fennel and toss with the extra sautéed apple. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and top with some of the mixed fennel and apples, drizzle with chili oil and cream, and finish with a few snips of fresh chives.