If you’ve got a burning desire to keep ’em down on the farm during the fall or winter holiday season, here’s the perfect way to do it. Fill the house with the smell of spiced apples. I recommend using Granny Smith apples, as most other apple varieties are likely to produce a weaker version of this soup. You need acid and flavor, and the Granny Smith delivers both.
Try to find organic apples, then leave the skins intact as most of the flavor and nutrients are found in or just under the skins of the fruit. Use your imagination when it comes to garnishes: perhaps some chopped, toasted walnuts, grated sharp cheddar cheese, or a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.
Serves 4 to 6
1 stick cinnamon
6 allspice berries
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
5 large Granny Smith apples, quartered, cored, and sliced
5 cups water
2/3 cup raisins
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
3 to 4 tablespoons honey (optional)
1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt or sour cream
Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the cinnamon, cloves, and allspice to a fine powder.
Place the butter and apples in a 7-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 3 hours, until the apples are soft and the juice nice and browned. Mash any large pieces of apple, then add the water, spices, and raisins and continue cooking for 2 hours longer.
Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and honey. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with the yogurt.
Indispensable Tools of the Trade: The Spice Grinder
Spices will taste brighter and fresher if ground just before using, just like the pepper that is ground fresh over your salad at table. This may sound like a lot of work at first, but once you’ve got a system, the rest is easy. It is generally simplest to buy spices in bulk, keep them in the freezer, and pull whatever spice out of the freezer and grind it as you need it. Spices can be ground with an electric mill or by hand with a mortar and pestle. If you are truly pressed for time, feel free to substitute commercially ground spices for the whole spices recommended in the recipes. Substituting 1 teaspoon of whole spice for 1 teaspoon of ground spice should get you close enough!
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