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Butternut squash and apple soup with curry for a smooth taste of autumn on Meatless Monday

Butternut squash soup may seem ubiquitous at this time of year, but this recipe is something special, with Granny Smith apples and a taste of curry adding a tart sweetness and hint of heat. It's easy to make, with just a few ingredients -- but there is a lot of prep involved, so be prepared for a lot of peeling and chopping. Still, the end definitely justifies the means, and you can make it a few days ahead.

Note: This makes an obscene amount of soup. Cut the recipe in half if you don't have a pot large enough to accommodate it (or you don't have a lot of soup-eaters in your house). But you'll want to consider making an entire batch for Thanksgiving, because this makes a great first course for a veggie feast.

See also: Butternut squash and saffron risotto for a savory entree on Meatless Monday

You will need: 2 medium butternut squash 6 medium Granny Smith apples 3 onions 8-10 garlic cloves 2 tablespoons curry powder 2 teaspoons ground cumin 8 cups vegetable stock (of course, we use our mock chicken stock) Hot water

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Stab each squash several times with a sharp knife. When the oven is preheated, put the squash in the oven (you can put them directly on the rack) and bake for fifteen minutes. (This will make the squash easier to peel and dice.) Let the squash cool enough for you to handle while you prepare the other ingredients. 2. Peel and chop your onions. Heat the oil in a large pot (this one is eight quarts) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for fifteen to twenty minutes, until soft and golden. 3. While the onion is cooking, peel the garlic. Crush it with the flat side of a knife. If the squash is cool enough, peel and de-seed it, too. Cut it up -- you'll be blending it at the end, so the size of the chunks doesn't really matter, but the smaller you can chop it, the faster it will cook. Meanwhile, here's what the onion will look like when it's ready -- perfect! 4. Add the garlic, curry powder and cumin. Cook, stirring, for thirty seconds. Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Add the squash. 5. While that's working, you can start prepping the apples: First, cut them into quarters. (And put a kettle on to heat up some water while you're at it.) Cut the ends off the apples and cut out the seeds. Peel the apples. Chop them up -- they don't have to be as small as the squash pieces. Add them to the soup. (We like to add them a few at a time, peeling and chopping as we go, so they don't have a chance to get too brown.) Once all the apples are in the soup pot, top off with just enough water to accommodate the ingredients -- the water/stock shouldn't quite cover the squash and fruit, but it should be close. Stir, cover and simmer for half an hour. The squash should be fork-tender by the time you're done. Time to blend! If you have an immersion blender, now would be a good time to break it out. We just put the soup into a blender in batches -- a Vitamix does a great job of creating a creamy texture with no lumps. See? Gorgeous! You can season with a little more salt and some fresh-ground black pepper. Serve hot.


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