It's probably best to prepare this soup when the first crop of cool-weather squash overlaps with the last crop of Macintosh apples. They break down quickly when they cook, which is what you want for a confit. Still, this is an elegant and tasty soup even with a substitute apple variety.
4 pounds of butternut squash
1 large onion
2 cups light vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 Macintosh apples
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup apple juice
3 tablespoons Calvados brandy
White pepper and salt to taste
Creme Fraiche (optional)
1. Dice and caramelize onion in a soup pot when the olive oil "speaks."
2. Peel and coarsely chop the squash.
3. Add a little stock to the caramelized onions and reduce until the pot is nearly dry, scraping the residue from the bottom of the pot.
4. Stir in the squash and one teaspoon of salt, making sure the vegetable is well coated with oil. Just cover with stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on. The squash produces more liquid as it cooks.
5. When the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, puree in a food processor or blender. (Now would be a good time to use that new immersion blender; this concoction is hot.)
6. Return the puree to the pot with one tablespoon of Calvados and white pepper; then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Make the confit while it cooks.
7. Peel, core and chop the apples. Sautee in 1 tablespoon of butter. When well coated with butter and heated through, add the remaining Calvados and cook on medium heat until the pan is nearly dry. Add the apple juice and cook for 10 to 15 minutes with the pot lid on. When the apples have broken down, remove the lid, mash them, retaining a bit of texture and cook out the remaining liquid.
8. Stir 1/2 of the confit into the soup, reserving some to garnish the bowls. A swirl of creme fraiche is a nice touch.
Lovely with a salad of bitter greens such as frisee or mesclun and crusty bread. Serves 6 or 8.
~Recipe from Field of Greens, Annie Sommerville