A Bowl of Sunshine on this Wintery Day

From the writing desk of Christine Mazurk

I feel the need to escape the news. Again, the first story to pop up is the death of another hostage at the hands of ISIS. My heart breaks for her family as it did for the others killed so brutally.

As the snow falls, burying most of the Northeast, I want to share some happiness, to escape the bad for just a moment. I want to share a bowl of sunshine with my friends.  

The delicious aroma of hearty soup fills the house. Simmering on the stove for tonight's dinner. What could be better on a cold winter day? So, today I share a favorite recipe for Winter Squash, Leek, and Apple Soup with Cider Crème Fraiche.

A quick note: Roasting the squash before adding it to the soup concentrates and sweetens its flavor. A last minute swirl of cider-infused crème fraiche lends creaminess. This wonderful soup comes from Vegetarian Times Presents: Healthy Soups and Stews.

What you will need:
1 large winter squash, halved, seeds removed.
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and quartered.
1 tablespoon of olive oil.
2 medium leeks, white parts only, sliced.
2 pinches ground black pepper.
Optional: a pinch of sea salt.
2 cloves garlic, minced.
1/2 cup white wine.
6 cups vegetable broth or stock. (I use only low sodium brands like Imagine - organic.)
1 bay leaf.
1/2 cup Cider Crème Fraiche (recipe to follow)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Place squash (cut side down) and apple quarters in a large baking dish. Add 1 cup of water, cover, and roast 35 to 40 minutes. Squash should be tender. Cool until squash is easy to handle. Scoop flesh from skin.
2. Heat oil in large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add leeks and black pepper, cook four minutes or until leeks soften. Stir in garlic, then wine, cook three minutes. Add squash, apple, stock, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf and puree until smooth and creamy. Return to pot and simmer an additional 15 minutes.
3. Serve with a swirl of Cider Crème Fraiche.

Cider Crème Fraiche

1/2 cup crème fraiche
2 tablespoons apple cider

Whisk ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead of time.)

I'm an ex-business woman, now full-time author, who decided to attend culinary school while in college just because... I love to cook and feel it expresses my love for my family and friends. Nothing is better than a home cooked meal.

Happy winter, stay warm and safe, and enjoy some piping hot, creamy delicious soup!!

Find me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Visit my website: www.christinemazurk.com
Find my books on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, iBook, Sony, Kobo and more.

I'll leave you with a fun image: When I was twelve years old, my parents went on a business trip to England, and I decided to have a dinner party for fourteen friends. I made a four course meal, and everyone had a great time. When my parents returned, my mother asked how I could do that? What if the recipes didn't turn out right? I looked at her, smiled, shrugged my shoulders, and said, "I guess we would have order pizzas!"

Until next week. Smile!!!   



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