{Holiday Recipe #5: Creamy Butternut Squash Apple Soup and Vanilla Bean Cheesecake}

This year, my company is participating in a Adopt-A-Family for Christmas Program by helping out a less fortunate family who wouldn’t have been able to afford to celebrate in a way most of us take for granted  (with a Christmas tree, gifts and a festive dinner). It’s a family of five including a mom, a dad (who recently lost his job) and three young boys.

A wishlist of items was placed in our kitchen and we all pitched in to help out in our own way.

I decided to contribute by purchasing some of the grocery items and to help prepare a part of their Christmas meal. Tonight I made a thick and creamy butternut squash and apple soup. I chose to make this because I thought it would be something that the young children would enjoy with the sweetness from caramelized squash and slight tartness of the Gala apples.

I’m also making this as an ode to my mom, who makes a version of this classic winter soup every Christmas (she is currently in Phoenix and it’s the first year we will not be together for the holidays).

I love the warm aromas of the cinnamon and spices, everytime I smell this soup cooking on the stove it reminds me of all the happy memories of spending time with family and loved ones.

Creamy Butternut Squash & Gala Apple Soup

  • One medium sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Gala apples, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 3 tbsp creamy goat cheese
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup
  • salt and pepper
Line a baking sheet with parchment and roast the diced squash for 45 minutes in an oven at 400F till nicely caramelized. When done, pour this into a large soup pot and cook with the apples and onions with 1 tbsp of olive oil on med high heat for a few minutes, till onions are transparent. Add in the chicken broth and half and half, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and either pour the mixture into a blender or use an immersion blender to puree the soup till smooth and creamy. Pour the soup back into the pot (if using blender) then add in the spices, goat cheese, maple syrup and seasonings and cook for another 5 minutes. When cool, store in an airtight container till ready to serve.
—————-
Next I prepared dessert. The mom had requested a plain cheesecake on their wishlist, but rather than purchasing one from the store, I decided to make one from scratch.
The recipe is SUPER easy…a simple cinnamon graham crust for the base..

Filled with a thick custardy batter that puffs and bakes up into this gorgeous sunshine yellow.

After the cheesecake had cooled, I spread a cloud of vanilla bean whipped cream in the center and decorated it with 5 cranberries (to represent each member of the family). Chill this in the fridge overnight. 

I remember that the mom had mentioned they loved pomegranates, so I quickly made a cranberry pomegranate compote as an accompaniment. It starts with 1/2 bottle of POM juice, a handful of fresh cranberries, 2 cinnamon sticks – simmer in a small pot over medium high heat till reduced slightly. Then added in 3 tbsp of sugar + 1 tbsp of cornstarch and stir until the mixture thickens. Strain, pour into a jar and store in the fridge till ready to serve.

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake (inspired by Paula Deen)

Crust:

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 7 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • seeds scraped from one vanilla bean pod
  • 3 eggs
  • Vanilla Bean whipped cream (1/3 cup heavy cream + 2 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
  • Cranberry Pomegranate Compote (see above)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Crust:
In a medium size bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar , cinnamon and butter. Mix well and place in the bottom and sides of either an 8-inch springform cake pan or a medium fluted tart pan. Make sure to press against the sides and bottom of the pan. Place into oven and bake for 8 minutes. Let cool.

Filling:
Prepare the filling by beating cream cheese. Mix in sugar and vanilla while beating until well blended. Add in eggs and combine. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, top with whipped cream and the cranberry pomegranate compote on the side.

——————–

I’m also providing potatoes, peas, carrots and corn to accompany their Turkey dinner and put together a basket of kitchen items including a pan, cutting board, dish towels, knives and utensils to help them out for their future meals.

Tis the season for giving 🙂

Comments
2 Responses to “{Holiday Recipe #5: Creamy Butternut Squash Apple Soup and Vanilla Bean Cheesecake}”
  1. Tatiana says:

    Oh wow that looks SO impressive! And you have a kind heart for helping in the season. I wanted to wish a very Merry Christmas to you and your family, and your kitty!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: