As I entered the wonderfully warm open-air tasting of Gourmet on Gore in Vail Village earlier this month, I began my pursuit of a soup sensation — steaming or chilled — either would do!
I joyously discovered that Sweet Basil was serving an heirloom melon and tomato gazpacho. This was garnished with compressed melon, olive oil powder and a spiced pepper shrimp (specifically an espelette pepper, which is a variety of chili pepper). The heirloom melon took the bite and acidity out of the tomato, resulting in a very smooth gazpacho. And, with the large pepper flakes on the shrimp, I was prepared for an overwhelming punch of heat, but the mildly spicy undertone had me happily surprised.
At Gourmet on Gore, ginger was an awe-inspiring and ever-present theme for the weekend of events: a couple of cocktails made with Gosling’s Ginger Beer and fresh tangs of ginger over Taste 5 Catering’s ahi tuna tacos. It’s a wonderful accomplishment when you can connect the (possibly unintentional) themes among chefs who participate in these food events. The next step for the home cook is to convert the themes into a do-able dinner menu at home.
One of my favorites that celebrates the zing of ginger is a roasted apple and butternut squash soup from Harrison’s Restaurant in Stowe, Vt. I admit that kicking off the fall season with a squash recipe is quite common and expected, but this soup has a great sweetness and tartness from the Granny Smith apples and a bite and sharpness of fresh ginger. Additionally, what I love about soups is that they are very forgiving; so feel free to increase the amount of ginger to your taste.
Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
(Page 11 in the “Ski Town Soups” cookbook)
1 large butternut squash
8 Granny Smith apples
1 large white onion, peeled and diced
1 jumbo carrot, peeled and diced
½ tablespoon garlic, roasted
¼ cup brandy
1 cup apple cider
1 quart vegetable stock
1 tablespoon fresh sage
Pinch of clove
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon fresh ginger
¼ cup Calvados apple brandy
2 tablespoons chives, diced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half and remove seeds. Lightly coat flesh with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Place flesh side down and roast for 30 minutes or until squash is soft. Remove from oven and cool. Remove and discard skin.
Cut apples into quarters and remove pits. Lightly coat with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the same oven for about 10 minutes. In a medium sauce pan, sweat onions and carrots until soft. Add roasted garlic, brandy, butternut squash and apples (reserve some roasted apples for garnish).
Cover and simmer for five minutes. Add cider, stock, clove, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and ginger, then simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add fresh sage. Puree with immersion blender or in a blender. Return to pot. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and finish with Calvados.
Garnish soup with reserved-and-diced roasted apples and chives.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Kneale family (owners of Harrison’s Restaurant) in Stowe this summer. I enjoyed the most amazing sugar beet and goat cheese napoleon. This upscale, sophisticated dish, featured in the salad portion of the extensive menu, highlighted slow-roasted, sliced red beets, roasted red peppers and creamy goat cheese coated with candied pecans, with a baby spinach salad tossed in an apple cider vinaigrette. And, as I write about this beet salad, I am apt to fantasize about another soup offering that celebrates beets. The beet gazpacho was developed by Tabernash Tavern in Tabernash, near Winter Park Resort. Beets are amazing root vegetables that are praised for their nitrates, which improve efficiency in a workout or training regimen.
(Page 149 in the “Ski Town Soups” cookbook)
3 large Morales Farm red beets, roasted — half chopped into large chunks, half small diced
8 whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored — half chopped into large chunks, half small diced
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded — half chopped into large chunks, half small diced
½ cup orange juice
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
½ yellow bell pepper, small diced
2 Morales Farm scallions, thinly sliced
1 ounce Morales Farm chervil — half chopped, half sprigs for garnish
4 tablespoons sour cream
Place halved beets in a deep roasting pan with bay leaves and peppercorns; add warm water until beets are covered. Cover with foil; slowly roast in a 325 degree oven for three hours or until “fork tender.” Drain water. Cool slightly and peel beets while still warm — the peel should fall right off. Cool completely. This can be done a day ahead and beets kept refrigerated.
Combine large chopped and roasted beets, large chopped apples and cucumbers, orange juice and vinegar. Puree in blender until very smooth. Place puree in large bowl and add small diced and roasted beets, small diced apples, cucumbers and yellow bell peppers, scallions and chopped chervil. Mix well and chill.
So, as the weather remains bright and warm in the Vail Valley, I am happy to offer a cozy, warm soup recipe and a cool, refreshing gazpacho. Enjoy both!
Jennie Iverson lives in Vail and is the author of the “Ski Town Soups” cookbook. Jennie provides insight into the culinary scene of ski towns across America. You can find more recipes and information at www.skitown soups.com.