Butternut Squash-Cheddar-Apple Soup

While I was bored at the airport on Saturday I purchased the latest Food Network magazine. One of the more interesting recipes was for a butternut squash soup with both sharp cheddar and apples. I wanted to prepare it for my family, but with the high fat and sodium content it wasn't very sensitive to their low-fat and low-sodium diet. I made a few changes to the recipe in order to make this soup more healthful and ended up with the best butternut squash soup I have ever tasted. My version also cuts about 100 calories and 16 grams of fat (12 of which are saturated!) I have found many butternut squash soups to be disappointing before because they are overly spiced and overly sweet and seem to be approaching pumpkin pie territory. This version was not, however. It was wonderfully savory, mainly because of the sharp cheddar cheese and potato. The apple and onion added just enough sweetness and there were no pie spices, just a little bit of earthy sage. For people who like cheddar cheese soup, this is a great change of pace. This soup is even more easy to prepare than cheddar cheese soup because that all the vegetable pulp seems to stabilize the melted cheese, preventing graininess upon standing.

Butternut Squash-Cheddar-Apple Soup

1 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash
2 peeled, diced apples
1 large white potato, peeled and diced (dice more finely than the apple for better cooking time)
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tbsp dried sage
2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup apple cider
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup skim milk
2 cups grated 2% milk sharp cheddar cheese (reserve 4 tbsp for garnish)
4 tbsp chopped walnuts
non-stick cooking spray

1. Heat a large pot over medium heat, then spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Add the squash, apples, potato, and onion and saute until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add the sage and flour and cook until the vegetables are coated. Add the cider and cook over high heat until the vegetables are coated with the thick sauce. Add the broth and milk and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover; cook 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
3. Add the cheese to the soup, and once it has melted, puree the soup using an immersion blender or with a regular blender in about 3 batches. When blending with a regular blender, remove the center stopper from the lid, to prevent a vacuum effect in the blender, and then cover the top with the lid along with a folded kitchen towel.
4. Garnish each bowl with walnuts and the reserved cheese.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 434
Fat: 18.4 g
Saturated fat: 7.8 g
Cholesterol: 41 mg
Sodium: 1159 mg
Carbohydrates: 41.6 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sugar: 16.4 g
Protein: 28.1 g

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