Apple-based soup is a refreshing change

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This soup isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill soup. It isn’t loaded with cheese, it’s not mellow like the butternut squash soup recipe I posted a few weeks ago, and it’s definitely more tart than the white bean-and-rosemary soup I made earlier this year.

While I usually tend to favor more mellow flavors for soups, the tartness in this Hungarian Apple Soup was a refreshing surprise. When I was preparing it, I thought the potato would cancel out the apple flavor, but that flavor was first and foremost in the end. It was a pleasant surprise.

I doubled the recipe because I had two apples I needed to use, but you can visit the original recipe if you only want to make three cups of soup.

If you’re looking for a soup that will awaken your tastebuds as we head into winter, this is it.

Next week I’ll begin my cookie countdown to Christmas. Get ready for some new favorites with great flavor.

Ingredients
1 1/3 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium tart apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups diced peeled Yukon Gold potato
2/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery, plus leaves for garnish
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
Pinch of paprika, preferably hot Hungarian
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 14-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add apple, potato, onion and celery; cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, sage, paprika and pepper; cook for 30 seconds. Pour in broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and gently simmer until the potato is tender when pierced with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a large blender or food processor, add sour cream and process until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Garnish with celery leaves, if desired.

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Hummus meatballs

Meatballs

As a single person, it’s easy to fall into the trap of heating up microwavable meals on a regular basis. Lately, I’ve been avoiding that by broadening my cooking repertoire and finding recipes that are simple enough to make when I get home from a day of deadlines. This week, I needed to make something that would work with the pita I made last weekend. I saw a recipe for Hummus Meatballs in Associated Press Food Editor J.M. Hirsch’s “High Flavor, Low Labor” cookbook — which is loaded with great recipes that are easy to make when you don’t have a lot of time — and decided they would fit the bill.

A few years ago, when I first started teaching myself how to cook, I’d buy every ingredient listed in the recipe I wanted to try. That habit left my cabinets littered with partially full jars of curry paste and specialty spices and ingredients for which I otherwise had no use. I’ve since abandoned that tendency and tried to use what’s already in my kitchen.

For this recipe, I didn’t have a red onion, parsley, cilantro or cumin. I used basil-flavored hummus, which I felt incorporated the herb flavor I might otherwise have missed. I only had white pearl onions, so I chopped a handful of those and substituted them for the red onion. As long as you have the hummus, bread and meat, you can substitute whatever you’d like in this recipe.

I cooked the meatballs for 20 minutes and they ended up being tender and slightly charred on the bottom, which actually tasted pretty good. Next time I make these, I’ll likely add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes because I felt the end result was a little bland.

Ingredients
3 slices whole-wheat bread
1/2 small red onion
1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup prepared or homemade hummus
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground beef (ground turkey could be substituted)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray

In a food processor, pulse the bread until it is finely ground. Add the onion and pulse until it is finely chopped and blended with the bread.

Add the parsley, cilantro, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and paprika. Pulse several times, or until thoroughly blended. Add the hummus, egg, salt and pepper, then pulse until blended.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the beef, then mix well.

Use your hands to form the mixture into balls by the tablespoonful. Arrange them on the prepared baking sheet, Spritz the meatballs with cooking spray.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through.

Makes about three dozen meatballs.