Snow Day Soup
Half of the kids in France have a snow day today, and so do we. No school for them, no work for the adults, except slipping and sliding our way to the corner store to stock up on food and wine, in case we’re stuck here indefinitely. Since last night the snow’s been coming down hard and fast,
the kind of thick fluffy snow that catches in the fence,
buries the berry bushes,
and traps the travelers. The buses aren’t running, the train schedule is a laughing matter, the autoroute from Perpignan to Barcelona is closed up tight, and we’re receiving official emailed warnings to stay put. In our case, those trapped include Eric and Jessica, who were supposed to be heading back to the US today, but who are now forced to spend a couple more days in the snowy south of France, alas.
To console them, I made soup. You don’t have to wait for a snow day to make this, in fact, I suggest that you make it as soon as possible. Today I made it without the cider, to reduce the sugar content, and it was still almost as lovely as ever. It’s the kind of soup that makes you glad to be indoors watching the snow swirl, the cats clean the icy bits from between their toes, and the electricity flicker, even if you are out of firewood. Now how did we let that happen?
Squash Soup With Calvados and Cider*
3 lbs mixed winter squashes, halved
3 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 onion, diced
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup Calvados or brandy
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
1 1/2 T boiled cider syrup (available from King Arthur, or reduce 1 cup fresh cider)
3/4 cup half and half
2 T mascarpone
2 tsp boiled cider
pinch ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with aluminum foil. Brush squash flesh with 2 tablespoons oil. Place on prepared baking sheets, cut side down. Roast squash until very tender, about 1 hour. Cool 20 minutes. Remove seeds. Scoop out 3 cups squash pulp and puree in food processor.
Melt butter with remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Sauté until onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add Calvados and simmer until almost all of liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Add squash to pan and stir to combine. Add broth, boiled cider, and half and half.
Remove bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Puree again with immersion blender. Pour soup through a Chinois or other fine sieve. Soup can be made ahead to this point.
Mix mascarpone, 1 tablespoon boiled cider, and ground cinnamon in medium bowl to blend.
Bring soup to simmer. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish each with a swirl of mascarpone mixture and serve.
*I adapted this recipe from this Bon Appetit original.