APPLEPICKINGSALLYRYANSTMFILE

Apple in your soup? Oh, yes!

A long-ago friend went apple-picking this weekend and if she wasn’t in another state, I would have joined her.

Because nothing says fall like going apple-picking. I still remember the first time a friend and I tried it. Oh, we had a grand time. We let others crowd together for their apples; we moved a few rows over to do our picking. Two city girls spent a sunny fall afternoon carefully inspecting each apple before we decided whether we’d pick it or not.

We didn’t realize anything was wrong until we pulled up to check out and the woman in charge barked at us: “Who told you to pick those?!” Embarrassed by our apple naivete, we handed over our money and she disgustingly waved us out.

We thought we had inadvertently picked apples that hadn’t ripened yet, but once we got them home we found them quite tasty. More likely the orchard had a systematic approach and we’d just blown it.

Fun times, that apple picking.

If you’re like me, it’s very likely you’ll come home with more apples than is possible to eat quick enough. Of course you can eat them out of hand, and apples in desserts — strudel, pie, whatever — rank pretty much as a favorite treat of mine.

But, I try to keep my sweet consumptions to a minimum these days. (Sad, I know.)

So I’m always also looking for savory ways to use up apples. Sauteing them along with pork is one of my autumn options. And then there’s soup!

This one from Cooking Light teams apples (it suggests the Pink Lady variety, which happens to be my fav apple right now) with parsnips. Now, don’t wrinkle your nose about parsnips; they are great. My family always has used them in a beef vegetable soup. They’re a root vegetable, a cousin of sorts to parsley and carrots, and offer a subtle sweetness. Parsnips are a natural for soup.

AppleParsnipSoup; Gentyl& Hyers forCooking Light; Stylist Kendra Smooth

 Gentyl& Hyers for Cooking Light; Styling by Kendra Smooth

With apples, this soup offers a great taste team. It comes together quickly, then you puree it in batches in a blender. Next thing you know, it’s done! Thanks, Cooking Light!

 APPLE-PARSNIP SOUP

MAKES 8 SERVINGS

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2½ cups chopped peeled Pink Lady apple (about 1 pound)

1 tablespoon curry powder

1½ teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 garlic clove, chopped

3½ cups chopped peeled parsnip (about 1½ pounds)

4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

1 cup apple cider

½ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 teaspoons crème fraîche

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add apple and the next 4 ingredients (through garlic); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add parsnip, chicken broth, and apple cider; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until parsnip is tender.

Place half of parsnip mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat the procedure with remaining parsnip mixture. Stir in salt and pepper. Ladle about ¾ cup soup into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 1 teaspoon crème fraîche.

Cooking Light

TOP PHOTO: SUN-TIMES MEDIA FILE PHOTO