By Emily Paster
Today's post is sponsored by Riveridge Produce. Look for Riverridge Gala, Honeycrisp and Jonagold apples from Michigan for your holiday table. Whether you want to make an amazing apple pie, a refreshing salad accented with crunchy apples, or a sweet-and-spicy squash and apple soup, such as the one pictured here, Riveridge apples will make your all your apple recipes stand out. Be sure to look out for a coupon in your mail this week for Michigan-grown Jonagold and Gala apples at a great price: $3.98 for a 5-lb. bag at all Copps, Rainbow, Pick 'N Save and Metro Market stores. Just in time for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!
Apples are one of my favorite foods. I love their crunchy texture and how they enhance both sweet and savory dishes. One of the most extraordinary thing about apples is the wide variation in texture and flavor among the different kinds. To eat, I love a firm, tart apple. But when baking or cooking with apples, I look for different qualities. For a pie, you want an apple that will keep its shape and not exude too much water, like a Golden Delicious. For salads, you want an apple that won't turn brown too quickly. It's important to always buy the right apple for the recipe that you are making.
I consider myself extremely lucky to live so close to the apple orchards of Michigan. Michigan farmers grow dozens of apple varieties from heirlooms to new hybrids. Did you know that apples are largest fruit crop for the state of Michigan? Michigan people know and love their apples. Going to a pick-your-own farm for apples and cider doughnuts is an annual fall outing for many Michigan families. I remember falling in love with this tasty tradition when I was introduced to it during my years in Ann Arbor.
One of the premium varieties of Michigan apples is the Jonagold. It's a hybrid that blends the best of the popular Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples. Farmers have found that the Jonagold grows exceptionally well in Michigan's northern climate. Long popular in Europe, Jonagold is growing in popularity at home due to its unique honey-tart flavor and crisp, juicy flesh. It is a very large, aromatic apple with a golden yellow undertone and bright orange-red blush that may be striped or mottled. Jonagold keeps well and is excellent for every use. So whether you want an apple for cooking, baking, fresh-cut into salads, applesauce or just eating out of hand, you will be very happy with a Jonagold. Because of its large size, Jonagold is an especially convenient choice for baking, cutting and other preparations.
In this recipe for Michigan Apple and Butternut Squash Soup, the Jonagold lends a sweetness that pairs well with the earthiness of the squash and the spiciness of the ginger. If you can't find Michigan Jonagolds in your area, the popular Honeycrisp — another premium Michigan apple — would work equally well. I adapted this recipe from the one found on MichiganApples.com. Although I have been making squash soup with apples for years, I had never before used equal amount of squash and Jonagold apples, as this recipe does, nor have I ever used apple cider as part of the soup liquid. The result is a slightly sweet soup with a real depth of flavor. Add a green salad and some crusty bread and you have an elegant lunch for company, or a healthy meat-free dinner.
Michigan Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
- 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 TB olive oil
- 2 TB butter
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cups Jonagold apples, peeled, quartered and chopped
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp. dried ginger
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1.5 cups Michigan apple cider
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Toss squash with olive oil and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet.
- Roast the squash until tender, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large stockpot.
- Add the onion, fresh ginger and apple and toss to coat with the butter.
- Saute onion and apple until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
- Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, nutmeg and dried ginger and continue to saute a few additional minutes until fragrant.
- Add squash to pot and stir to combine.
- Add the apple cider and chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil.
- Turn down heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes.
- Puree soup until you have reached a smooth but thick consistency using an immersion blender or food processor.
- Serve hot garnished with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.
So don't forget to look for Michigan Jonagold apples for all your holiday cooking and baking needs. Look out for your coupon this week for Michigan-grown Jonagold and Gala apples from Riveridge Produce for $3.98 for a 5-lb. bag at all Copps, Rainbow, Pick 'N Save and Metro Market stores. Mariano's is currently having an in-store special on Riveridge Michigan-grown Honeycrisps, so you may want to pick up some of those beauties as well.
Full disclosure time: this is a sponsored post and I am being compensated for this content. As always, all opinions expressed herein are my own.