Apples; the secretly disguised superheros
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” who knows
The simple and common apple is actually a superhero. Immortal and extraordinary, the apple has been flying through history in art, science experiments, legends, and torrid love affairs. It has also been seen flexing its vast muscles and protecting health and smashing disease for centuries. The apple is also the master of disguise as we just see a quiet everyday apple lying there in our fruit bowls.
The wild apple of ancient Asia, malus pumila, a member of the rose family, is the ancestor of our current juicy superstar apple. The malus was small and sour, much like our crab apples. There are many tales told of this ancient apple and its rise to fame but the ever imaginative Romans are credited with cultivating it into the predecessor of our caped crusader. They began the magic by creating 7 different varieties of the apple.
There is a wee bit of controversy that needs to be cleared up for our superstar. The apple has never deserved the publicity that it was the downfall of the Garden of Eden. (But I guess every super hero is misunderstood occasionally.) No specific name is given to the fruit Eve tasted from that notorious tree. Some historians believe Eve’s fruit of temptation might have been a pomegranate or possibly even a quince.
No matter what the mysterious past of the apple is, today it is the world’s favorite champion fruit with American’s eating an average of 50 pounds per person. Johnny Appleseed was on to something when he planted apple trees across the country! There are now over 7,500 varieties of apples being grown world wide. The leading producer of apples is China, (big surprise!) with the US coming in second with Washington State as the quarterback.
The nutritional benefits of our humble hotshot are astounding. A medium apple eaten raw with the peel on has only 81 calories and a whopping 3.7 grams of soluble fiber. (Make sure and eat them with the skin on, most of the good stuff is in there.) It is also loaded with antioxidants, potassium, folic acid, Vit C and calcium. The amazing apple also has been shown in studies to reduce the chance of lung, breast and colon problems and consequent cancer. An apple a day really does keep the doctor away!
How does one pick the right apple out of 7500 different varieties for the dish? I once again, sacrificed myself and my husband for the good of all, and found that out. Honeycrisps are the BEST for eating and baking. They even edged out the old reliable granny smith’s. Gala’s are a pretty good all around apple too if you can’t find honeycrisps. Macintoshes are the best applesauce apple but do not bake with them! They turn to mush. There are so many wonderful varieties of apples I recommended you do your own personal trials and enjoy this super hero in disguise.
Apple and winter squash soup with truffle oil
I like to use butternut squash in this soup, it makes a lovely color. If you are vegetarian, omit the bacon and use 2 tablespoons of butter to sauté the veggies in. I use the apple skin and all but you can peel it if you want a smoother texture. Serves 4 as an appetizer, two as a dinner.
2 slices of bacon (optional)
1 large onion finely diced
1 large leek, white and green parts chopped fine
2 – 3 cloves of garlic minced
2 cups low sodium broth, veggie or chicken
1 large winter squash, peeled and chopped into cubes
1 medium tart apple, like granny smith, grated
½ cup of water or so
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of fresh sage, chopped fine
¼ cup of sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Truffle oil (optional)
Fry up that meat candy (bacon) in a large pot till crispy. Remove the bacon and add the onion, garlic, and leeks to the bacon fat (I know, but trust me on this one) till tender and fragrant. Add the broth and stir up the browned bits from the bottom. Then toss in the squash, apple, water and spices. Simmer mixture covered till tender and delectable, about 15 minutes.
Now carefully puree the soup in a blender in small batches till smooth as silk. (An immersion blender is perfect here, if you have one.) Whisk in sour cream and season to taste. Serve up hot with a dollop of sour cream, crumbled bacon and wee bit of truffle oil drizzled on top. Bon appétit!