This is a great soup to have in your everyday arsenal. It’s sweet, purely flavored, and can be made in a flash. The recipe came from Canyon Ranch, back when the Berkshires spa was little-known but expensive. Now it is just the latter. I think it's the perfect thing to serve the week after Thanksgiving, when you still crave the flavors but need a break from the heft. The recipe called for a red Rome or Delicious apple, neither of which I found tart enough. I changed it to Honey Crisp or Granny Smith. —Amanda Hesser
clove garlic, peeled and minced
cups peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash
cup chicken broth, homemade or canned low-sodium
cup apple cider
cup light sour cream
teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
unpeeled Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apple, cored and finely diced
Heat a medium-size saucepan over low heat. Add the shallot, garlic, and 1/4 cup water. Cook until the shallot and garlic are softened, being careful not to let them burn, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the squash and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes.
Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Holding the top down with a towel, blend until smooth. Add the cider, sour cream, and salt. Continue blending until well combined. The soup can be made ahead up to this point. Place in a clean saucepan over low heat until heated through. Season with additional salt if needed.
Ladle the soup among 4 bowls. Garnish with the diced red apple and cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.