Even though we've had a few nice days, it's still really cold and wintry here in Nashville. So I still want soup. And, actually, to me, it will still be soup weather well into May. If it's not warm enough for flip flops, it's cold enough for soup.
I found the recipe for this soup on the Woodchuck Cider website. I was looking for something interesting to make with it, though I was really going for a bread. But I already had some mashed butternut squash in the freezer, so I thought I'd give this a go.
I made a number of changes to it and I think it turned out great. The smell of the cumin is a little heavier than I'd like, but the taste isn't overpowering. I also made other changes to make it vegan (even though I served it with cheese biscuits; hey, I'm trying). If you don't like a bisque consistency, just add another cup of water to get it where you want it; it won't change the taste too much at all. You may want to add a little salt, though.
The biscuits were a real experiment. I didn't change much of the recipe (cut back on the amount of butter, added mustard) and my first bite didn't impress. But they kind of grew on me (and Mr. Eats, too). By the end of the first biscuit, I decided I liked them. However, they would definitely be better with white flour. And they're perfect with this soup.
Spiced Squash and Cider Soup
adapted from the Woodchuck Cider recipe page
serves 4 - 6
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 teaspoon ground cumin (or a bit less)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground clove
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked, mashed butternut squash* (or a 14-ounce can pumpkin)
1½ cups Woodchuck Hard Cider (1 12oz. bottle or can)
1 cup vegetable broth
½ cup water, plus additional for thinning
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Smoked paprika for garnish
*See this butternut squash recipe for cooking instructions. (If you can't find a whole butternut squash to roast, just check the freezer section at the grocery for frozen butternut squash. Bonus: already peeled and chopped! And doesn't require as long to cook.)
Cook oil and onions in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until onions are soft and caramel colored, about 25 minutes. Stir in spices and garlic, cook 1 or 2 minutes more, then stir in squash, Woodchuck Hard Cider, broth, water, and vinegar.
Cover the pan and cook 35 to 45 minutes or until flavors are well blended and onion is very soft. Puree the soup in a blender or processor and return to the pan. Reheat, adjust salt to taste, and stir in additional liquid if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with paprika.
Whole-Wheat Cheddar Garlic Drop Biscuits
adapted from 100 Days of Real Food
makes 12 biscuits
1 cup whole wheat flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup grated cheddar cheese* (4 oz of chunk cheese grated)
¼ cup (½ stick) melted butter
½ cup milk
Preheat the oven to 375F. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, and mustard. Stir in the grated cheese using a fork. Stir in the melted butter and milk (also with a fork) until well combined, but not over-mixed.
Drop 12 heaping spoonfuls of the mixture onto a large ungreased baking sheet (evenly spaced). Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
*Use good cheese with this recipe. Just like with the cheese straws, the quality of cheese greatly affects the taste of the biscuit. I'd suggest Cabot cheese or what I used for this one, the Sargento 4 State Cheddar blend.