Last night we celebrated Leah’s brother’s birthday at my house. Happy birthday Sam! Our contribution to dinner was homemade gnocchi with Italian sausage, and a delicious butternut and apple soup.
The soup came from my mom’s Barefoot Contessa cookbook. I remember her making it sometime in the not too distant past and loved it. The apples and apple cider are what make it unique — we used honey crisp. It’s great for a rainy fall evening.
Gnocci with Tomato Sauce
- 2 pounds Idaho or russet potatoes
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Coarse salt
- Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Place potatoes in a large stockpot. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a skewer, about 40 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash potatoes using a potato ricer. Set aside on a baking sheet until completely cooled.
- On a cool, preferably marble, work surface, gather potatoes into a mound, forming a well in the center. In a small bowl, stir together eggs, 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pour mixture into well. Using both hands, work potatoes and egg mixture together, gradually adding 2 cups of flour. Scrape dough from work surface with a knife as necessary. This process should not take more than 10 minutes. The longer the dough is worked, the more flour it will require and the heavier the dough will become.
- Dust hands, dough, and work surface lightly with some of the remaining 1 cup flour. Cut dough into 6 equal portions. Using both hands, roll each piece of dough into a rope 1/2-inch thick. Continue dusting as long as dough feels sticky. Slice ropes at 1/2-inch intervals. Indent each piece with thumb, the tines of a fork, or the back of a semicircular grater to produce a ribbed effect.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) tomato sauce
- 2 sprigs basil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, flakes
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Thinly shaved parmesan cheese, for serving
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add wine; cook until most liquid has evaporated. Add tomatoes and juice, tomato sauce, basil, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until slightly thick, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
- Bring a large pot water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon salt. Add half of the gnocchi; when they rise to the top (after about 2 minutes), continue to cook until tender, about 15 seconds more. Transfer gnocchi with a slotted spoon to pan with sauce. Repeat process with remaining gnocchi.
- Reheat gnocchi over low heat; gently toss. Serve with cheese shavings.
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large)
- 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
- 5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet apples, such as McIntosh (4 apples)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups good apple juice or cider
Warm the butter and olive oil in a large stockpot over low heat. Add the onions and curry powder and cook, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.
Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut into chunks.
Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper, and two cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apples are very soft. Process the soup through a food mill fitted with a large blade, or puree coarsely in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
Pour the soup back into the pot. Add the apple juice and enough water to make the soup the consistency you like; it should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot.