This post is sponsored by Envy Apples. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are my own.
There is almost nothing better than the satisfying crunch and sweet juiciness of the perfect apple. There’s also almost nothing worse than a mealy apple with faded flavor. Well, let me tell you, I’ve found the perfect apple. Envy apples are a cross between Braeburn, known for its balanced sweetness, and Royal Gala, which has a milder essence. It’s a big claim, but I stand by it. Try some for yourself. I’m confident you’ll agree. #BiteAndBelieve
They’re consistently crisp, and for those of you who love to have slices of apple on your charcuterie tray or in your child’s lunchbox, these apples have a naturally higher citric acid content that slows down the browning you get with other apples. No need to sprinkle apple quarters or slices with lemon juice to keep them pretty! These apples will go hours without discoloring. I’m happy to share that Envy apples are non-GMO, grown naturally in New Zealand and in the U.S., in Washington state.
Envy Apples invited me to attend a Central Market Cooking School class on using apples in a wide variety of meals, from breakfast to dessert. First, if you’ve never taken a class at Central Market, you’re missing out. They do demonstrations as well as hands on classes, and both are big fun if you’re into cooking. The chef instructor normally pairs wine with each course (water and tea are available), so you get a bit of advice on what varietals taste best with your meal. I love that the chef will tell you which ingredients are available in the store, and offer substitutions for certain, harder to find items.
One of the perks of Central Market cooking classes is that they always provide a set of the recipes so that you can duplicate your meal at home. I have the delicious fennel and apple salad pictured above on my menu this week. It comes together swiftly, and is a pleasing mix of flavors.
It’s soup weather right now, and a bowl of butternut squash and Envy apple soup is one of the most tasty and comforting lunch or dinner offerings. The recipe calls for 4lbs of raw butternut squash, pretty much two whole squash. Please don’t try to chop up that hard-as-concrete raw squash. Do yourself a favor and buy the ready to cook squash cubes. There’s no reason you should risk losing a finger in a tragic kitchen accident while hacking away at a butternut squash.
In class, we topped our soup with pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds). I’m planning to drizzle a little creme fraiche on this soup when I make it at home, then scatter a little diced raw Envy apples on for a crunchy contrast to the creamy soup. Like most cooks, I usually tweak recipes to make it my own. I’ll probably add a little garlic to this savory soup, because garlic. I could never become a vampire and throw over my love for the stinking rose.
This recipe, adapted from Chowhound, can easily be halved if you want to make a smaller amount. I suggest serving it with slices of buttered, toasted French bread, to mop up every bit of this flavorful winter soup. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think of Envy apples, and this recipe.
Butternut Squash & Envy Apple Soup with Sage
- 4 lbs whole butternut squash (about 2 medium, halved lengthwise and seeds removed)
- 2 Tb. unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
- 1 medium Envy apple (about 8oz.)
- 1/2 medium yellow onion
- 8 fresh sage leaves, plus more for garnish, if desired
- 2 1/2 c. low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 1/2 c. water
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 c. heavy cream
- 1/2 c. toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish
Heat the oven to 425° F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place squash pieces cut side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, 50 minutes to an hour. (Note: if you are using pre-cubed, seeded, peeled squash, spray the foil with a little cooking spray to avoid sticking. You’ll want to check the squash periodically, as cubes will cook faster than the halved squash).
Meanwhile, peel, core and cut the apple into a medium dice. Cut the onion into a medium dice. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple, onion and sage, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the squash skins.
Add the broth, water and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.
Using a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap (the pour lid) from the blender lid and covering the space with a kitchen towel. This allows the steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off. Alternatively, use an immersion blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Serve garnished with fried sage leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds. Makes 6-8 servings.