For this soup you will need:
2 lbs carrots (diced)
Some ginger (matchsticks)
1 medium onion (diced)
2.5 red peppers (2 roasted, .5 diced fine)
1 celery rib (minced)
1 big potato (diced)
1 small butternut squash (cubed and roasted)
1 lemon (juice and zest)
1/2 a cucumber (diced)
Some apples (diced)
Some pears (diced)
Some garlic (a few smashed cloves to saute and one to blend later)
Woody herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc.)
Leafy herbs (cilantro, parsely, etc.)
Some honey/maple syrup
1/2 stick of unsalted butter (olive oil can be used instead)
Some olive oil
Some apple cider vinegar/ red wine vinegar
Some kind of stock (I used chicken, but vegetable or beef can be used)
1/2 gallon of apple cider
Some sour cream (optional)
Some chili peppers (optional)
A rind from a hard cheese (like Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Basically, this is a fall soup that also has a cold component, which is kind of like a relish. This is then garnished with a little sour cream if you like.
Most of the ingredients:
First, coat 2 red peppers and the cubed butternut squash in vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt and roast until the skins of the peppers are mostly black and the squash is browned, turning as needed.
While the red peppers and squash are roasting, dice the cucumber and the red pepper for the relish. Mince up a chili, if you like it hot. In a bowl, sprinkle the cucumber and red peppers with salt and pepper, a little lemon juice and just enough vinegar to coat them. Then add a little honey or maple syrup to cut the tartness or sourness, to taste. The salt will draw more liquid out of the pepper and cucumber, which is ok.
Next, dice your celery and onion. I like to dice them very small.
In a really big pot, melt the butter and throw in a few bay leaves and a couple cinnamon sticks. You can use powdered cinnamon, provided it isn't pre-mixed with sugar. You will also have to add it later on, or else the flavor will be completely lost. Stick cinnamon has a much better and stronger flavor, so I recommend using that.
By now, the red peppers are probably roasted. Put them in a doubled paper bag and clip the top to steam. This makes removing the skins a lot easier.
Next, add the onion and celery, along with some crushed garlic cloves and the matchsticked ginger. The matchsticks don't have to be that even. This soup gets blended later on. This piece of ginger was about the size of a small chicken egg.
At this point, add some salt.
Once things look soft and close to translucent, add a good dash of paprika. You can add a chili at this point too.
If you haven't already, dice up the potato, carrots, apples and pears. Definitely peel the carrots, but you don't have to peel the pears, apples or potato if you really clean them off. I keep them on for the nutrients (and laziness) but if I'm making it for other people, then I will peel them as it makes for a smoother consistency. Also, to get an even smoother consistency, add more apples than pears. I'm using 6 pieces of fruit, but you can use as little as one.
Now is probably a good time to have some wine. It's also a good time to add it to the pot to deglaze whatever is in there and to let the wine reduce. I'd say, use about 2 cups. Also, the squash should probably be done at this point, so when it is, take it out and put it aside.
Add all the fruit, the potato and the carrots and the roasted butternut squash. You can cheat by using the pre-cut kind or baby carrots, but it might take longer for everything to soften up, as they are both larger pieces than I would normally use. Don't forget to add more seasoning at this point, as that's a lot of stuff that needs flavor and potatoes suck up salt.
Once all of the stuff has been flavored and allowed to steam together for a little, add your stock and the apple cider as well as the cheese rind, if you're using one.
While the pot is coming to a boil, the peppers should be cool enough to handle. If roasted well, the skins should come off pretty easily. Discard any seeds and scrape out any white stuff.
All I had that day for woody herbs was oregano. Not my first choice, but it works well. If you have some cheesecloth you can be real fancy and make a sachet, or you can just tie the sprigs together with some twine. This makes it easier to fish out later. You don't want to blend woody herbs on the stem. It's bad for your blender. Once the pot is boiling, bring it down to a simmer and add the woody herbs. Simmer everything until it's really soft. Remember that ginger is pretty fibrous, so you want that to break down a bit. At this point, add a bit of nutmeg and some cumin if you like.
When everything is good and soft, fish out the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and woodly herbs and add the roasted red peppers, a fresh whole clove of garlic and your leafy herbs. I used cilantro and basil for mine. You can also add another chili, if you want it spicy (the spice from the other chili peppers should have faded to a dull heat that melds with the heat from the ginger).
Next, blend everything with either a stick blender or with a conventional blender, in batches. For this soup, I like to use a conventional blender, even if it is less convenient. I think it makes for smoother soup.
Ideally, I'd take this off the heat and let it cool completely, overnight or even for a few days. This will allow the flavors to steep together better. Whenever you do serve it, it's best to heat it slowly so that the flavor from the herbs isn't lost.
Put soup in a bowl, add a dollop of sour cream, then the relish, then a little oil and some pepper if you want. You can even add some grated hard cheese, like Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano. I suppose you could use Manchego as well. I've had people ask for Gruyere, but that's expensive (so I don't buy it). Here is an ugly picture of what that looks like: