When soup season arrives, I am one happy lady. It is the epitome of comfort food in my book. Warm steamy soup is ladled into bowls and then quickly vanishes. Some crusty gluten free bread finishes the job, mopping up any last morsels of the delicious liquid. So satisfying.
I haven’t always loved soup, though. I used to find it bland and one dimensional. How could anyone feel full after bothy spoonfuls of a thin liquid. Spoon, swallow, spoon, swallow… I was not impressed. I like to chew my food, and silky soups offered none of this satisfaction. Then, one fateful day, enter the crouton! Crunchy croutons floating on top of a pureed soup won me over. It was love at first bite. I found what I had been searching for. It was the air to my lungs, the skip in my step, the crouton to my soup. Croutons were that satisfying crunch that a good soup needed. I can still remember my first soup crouton like it was yesterday. Since then, there was no going back. Pureed soups were made for croutons.
These croutons are oh so nutty and lightly flavored with fall spices that perfectly compliment this Butternut Apple soup. The spice mixture brings out the sweetness in the apple and the earthiness in the squash. It is a match made in soup heaven. Cupids arrow was pointed in the right direction. Warm steamy bowls of hearty soup topped with crispy crunchy nutty spicy croutons. What more could you want?
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 lbs . yellow onions , peeled, halved and cut into thin strips
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 small butternut squash , diced
- 2 medium apple , peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- Pinch cayenne
- 1 qt . vegetable broth
- 2 1/2 cups water
- For the Sweet and Spicy Nut Clusters:
- 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
- Pinch cayenne
- 1 tablespoon flax meal plus 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/3 cup chopped pumpkin seeds
- 1/3 cup shopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
For the soup:
Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat until warm. Add in the onions and the balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally until deeply caramelized, about 55 minutes. Remove the caramelized onions, and set aside.
Add in the butternut squash and cook until softened, about 7-10 minutes. Add in the apples and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Add back in the caramelized onions along with the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in the stock and water. Cover and cook for 15 minutes allowing the flavors to come together. Remove from the heat and allow the soup to cool.
Puree the soup with an immersion blender to desired consistency. Alternately, process the soup in batches in a food processor until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. Add in salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Return the soup to a simmer and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve with Sweet and Spicy Nut Clusters.
For the Sweet and Spicy Nut Clusters:
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Spray a small cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small bowl combine the flax seed meal and water. Allow the mixture to sit and thicken for about 5 minutes. Then add in the honey and stir to combine. Add in the curry powder, cumin, garlic powder, cinnamon, salt, cardamom, and cayenne and whisk to thoroughly combine. Add in the pumpkin seeds, pecans, sesame seeds, and chia seeds and stir so that all the nuts are coated with the wet ingredients.
Spread the mixture out on the prepared sheet tray and bake for 30 minutes. Stir the clusters and bake for another 30 minutes. Allow the clusters to cool before serving or storing.