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Butternut Squash Soup

Serves: 8-10 people
Wine Pairing: Torii Mor Chardonnay or Viognier

 1   Medium/large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½ inch cubes
4   Medium/Large carrots cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2   Stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3   Cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3   Small white potatoes, with skins, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3   Large apples, peeled, cored, coarsely chopped (honey crisp, pink lady, or granny smith)
1/4 t  Ground cayenne pepper (add more or less to your taste)
1/2 t  Cinnamon
1/4 t  Turmeric
1/2 t  Fresh finely ground black pepper
1 t     Salt
2 T   Olive Oil, enough to just coat the bottom of the pan

Combine butternut squash, carrots, celery, and garlic in a bowl. Just before cooking, prepare the apple and add it to the bowl with the other vegetables. This prevents browning of the apple.
Put potatoes in a separate bowl with 2 cups of water, or enough water to cover the potatoes and prevent browning. The water will be added to the pot too.
Heat a 4-quart stock pot over medium/medium-high heat until hot, and then add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When ready, the oil should shimmer but not smoke. Add spices to the hot oil blooming the flavors for several seconds, until fragrant.
Add the chopped apple and all of the cut vegetables except the potato to the pot and stir to thoroughly mix and evenly distribute the oil and spices. Cook until some browning occurs, most of the moisture has evaporated, and a fond begins to develop on the bottom of the pan. Be careful not to burn it!
Add potatoes and their water to the pot, with additional water, if necessary, to just cover the vegetables. Bring back to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover. Let cook until squash and carrots are soft, and potatoes are completely cooked, stirring occasionally to cook evenly.
When the vegetables are done, puree with a blender until smooth. Additional water may be needed to get the desired consistency or to help the pureeing process. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper. Be careful with the salt if you plan to use finishing salt.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt in the center of soup, garnish with smoked salt, fresh ground black pepper, and chopped basil.

Recipe courtesy of Kevin Gehringer (wine club member)