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Pumpkin pairs perfectly with apples in bisque

Oh, October. It’s officially pumpkin-flavored-everything month. If you want to see the face of bliss, offer your loved ones this easy-to-prepare scrumptious Pumpkin Apple Cider Soup lovingly paired with adorable grilled cheese croutons. I kid you not. This is a dish destined to become a fall family favorite.

Although incredibly nutritious, pumpkin on its own is a little bland. We’re infusing complexity into it by adding onion, garlic, lots of seasonal spices, apple and apple cider. The cider and the apple bring the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity to this soup. However, this is a savory soup; don’t expect a pool of pumpkin pie.

If your budget allows, this is the time to splurge on some good cider. I found some locally made unfiltered cider that has such depth of flavor. You only need one cup for the soup, the rest you get to sip when evenings get chilly.

You can choose to make this soup as chunky or smooth as you like. It’ll taste the same either way; it’s just a texture preference. The outcome depends on how small you chop the ingredients and if you decide to puree the finished soup. I chose the middle ground with finely diced onion and apple and was very pleased with the results. My family loved having the little bursts of apple spiking the rich and savory soup.

PUMPKIN APPLE CIDER SOUP

Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 cups

What you’ll need:

1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter

1 cup onion, diced

1 cup apple (any variety) peeled, cored and diced

1 teaspoon garlic, grated or minced

1 29-ounce can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

4 cups (32-ounce box) chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup apple cider

1 teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon each cinnamon and ground ginger

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Optional for bisque: half and half or heavy cream

Garnish: sour cream, pepitas, roasted pumpkin seeds

Here’s how:

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot or large saucepan over medium heat, bring the oil and butter up to a sizzle and sauté the onion for about 3 minutes. Next add the apple and continue to sauté until both are quite soft. Add the garlic and stir to combine and take a moment to appreciate that amazing aroma.

Don’t you love a great savory and sweet combo? Now, let’s make soup. Add the pumpkin, chicken or vegetable broth, apple cider and stir. Now add the spices: thyme, cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper.

Stir to combine and let this simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Adjust seasoning to taste.

At this point, for a creamier, totally smooth soup, you can use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to purée until it reaches your desired consistency. You can also add half and half or heavy cream to make this a pumpkin bisque. I’d start at half a cup and add from there.

To serve, ladle into bowls and serve with grilled cheese croutons.

For extra Diva flair, you can garnish with little dollops of sour cream (it doesn’t dissolve into the soup like heavy cream would) and a sprinkle of bright green pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) and/or roasted whole pumpkin seeds.

GRILLED CHEESE CROUTONS

Slice a baguette (day old is perfect) into ¼-inch slices. Place a slice of room-temperature sharp cheddar cheese between two slices and butter the outsides, like little sandwiches. Heat a skillet on medium-high and grill the croutons until golden brown and delicious.

Make extra because these are simply addictive.

See you next week.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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