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Around here, we’re big fans of home-made soups in autumn, and we cook up a pot once a week. It’s a great way to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables during a busy time of year, when cold and flu germs are running rampant.
Even if you don’t have much room, you can still grow apples. Above are espaliered apple trees growing in garden author and speaker Mary Ann Newcomer’s sunny backyard, which isn’t far from my house. Another option includes columnar apple trees that grow in pillar shapes and are ideal for apartment balconies and small-space gardens. You’ll need more than one variety of columnar apple trees to ensure fruit set, because they’re not self-pollinating.This Hungarian Apple Soup recipe caught my eye, because it features apples and because my grandmother was born in Hungary’s historic Tokaj wine-region area.
Just across the border, my grandfather grew up in a picturesque Slovakian village called Betliar. Then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Betliar is home to a famous manor house that once belonged to Hungary’s aristocratic Andrassy family. The popular tourist spot gives the Slovakian town its name today. Despite the fact that my grandparents grew up rather close to each other, they had to move thousands of miles away to Pittsburgh to meet and fall in love. That’s why I’m dedicating my version of Hungarian Apple Soup to my grandparents, and my dear old dad.
Hungarian Apple Soup (Almaleves)
This recipe was adapted from an Eating Well version. For best results, use the freshest ingredients. The onions and sage for this recipe came from my garden, and the apples, chives and potatoes from local Northwest farmers. Don’t skimp on the paprika; buy the best you can afford.
2 tablespoons of oil (I used grape seed)
3 apples (I used two Pink Ladies and 1 small green Lodi apple. Tart apples are best)
1 ½ cups Yukon Gold potatoes, diced and peeled
2/3 cups yellow onion, finely chopped
½ cup celery, thinly sliced; leaves can be used for garnish
1 carrot, thinly sliced (I used a purple one)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh sage (or ¼ teaspoon dried sage)
½ teaspoon fresh chives (or ¼ teaspoon dried)
¼ teaspoon sugar
Big pinch of dried ground cumin
Big pinch of dried ground Hungarian paprika
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
6 tablespoons plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion until transparent, stirring often. Add potato, carrot and celery, and continue cooking. Add apples and sugar, cooking for another 5 minutes. Then stir in salt, sage, chives, cumin, paprika and pepper. Pour in broth and bring to a simmer.
2. Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently until potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork. About 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and allow soup to come to room temperature.
4. Transfer soup to a blender, add yogurt or sour cream and process until smooth. You may have to puree soup in batches. Use caution with hot liquids.
5. Adjust seasonings, and add more cumin, paprika and sage if necessary.
6. Enjoy this soup warm with apple slices or celery leaves on top. Serves about 3 to 4 people. Or, 2 very hungry ones.
Enjoy your meal, or as the Hungarians would say, “Jó étvágyat!”