November 8, 2011

Cider Day at New Salem Preserves and Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Cider

Cider Day is exactly what it sounds like. There is freshly pressed apple cider, apple cider donuts, apple cider cinnamon buns, apple cider syrup. There are fresh apples of every vintage and variety, which, if you'd like, you can make into caramel apples. There's butternut squash soup made with apple cider. They have talks on apple growing, cider making activities and walks through the orchard.

Cider Day is held every November at New Salem Preserves, an apple orchard and cider mill in Western Massachusetts.  I've been going to the orchard for as long as I can remember. In fact, I've spent almsot every Thanksgiving there with my family. The orchard, or "the farm" as it is often referred to in my family, is run my my mom's aunt and her partner, Carol and Robert.

I love coming to enjoy cider day. This year I met my family there and brought along my friend Mitch from Wesleyan. More than anything, Cider Day is a wonderful coming together of people at one of the most beautiful New England Settings you can imagine. Here are some of my photos from the day.

Carol's Butternut Squash Soup made with fresh apple cider (recipe below). It might just be the best soup I know. At Cider Day, it's served with local whole grain bread and soft butter. What an autumn, New England meal if there ever was one.

The old cider mill, where cider is still pressed every fall.

You can see the cider all bottled up on the right and being served on the left. But there's lots more than just cider. There's hand-made preserves, apple cider syrup, maple syrup, and apple cider donuts. The donuts are truly addictive - it's actually impossible to eat just half of one. Sugar-cinnamon coated with a crumbly yet chewy interior. They're just wonderful.

The old farm house, dated circa 1750, with the garden in the foreground. Yep, there's been a farm here longer than this country has been around. That's a long time. 

Inside the farm house flowers sit on the kitchen counter.

Recipe for soup below.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Cider
Serves 4-6
From Carol at New England Preserves

The spice of the curry perfectly offsets the sweetness of the squash and cider. A truly simple and satisfying autumn soup.

-4 tablespoons butter
-2 large yellow onions, chopped
-2 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed, cut into chunks
-2 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and chopped
-3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
-1 cup apple cider
-4 teaspoons curry powder
-salt and pepper

1. Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions and curry and cook over low heat until tender.

2. Add squash, apples and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered until squash and apples are tender, about 20-30 minutes.

3. Put contents of pot into a blender and slowly add cider until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper and serve.