Virginia apples start appearing in the summer, but the season's prime time starts in September — a good thing for all those school lunches. An apple a day They're low in calories, high in fiber and antioxidants, filling and flavorful. Besides that, a variety of studies have indicated that eating apples can help reduce the risk of dementia, heart disease and certain cancers, as well as bolster the immune system and lower cholesterol. Where to find them Apples from Dickie Brothers Orchards in Nelson County (Red and Golden Delicious, Empire, Jonagold, and Granny Smith in September; Stayman in October) are available at Ellwood Thompson's Local Market and at many area Wal-Mart stores, according to Denise Yetzer with Cavalier Produce. Whole Foods Market and Martin's Food Markets typically carry apples from Carter Mountain Orchard near Charlottesville, says orchard owner/manager Cynthia Chiles. Kroger also carries Virginia-grown varieties, a spokeswoman says. Andy Howell of Café Rustica likes to buy apples from a small shack off Interstate 64's Crozet exit. Black Twigs are grown at Rural Ridge Orchard in southern Albemarle County and at Jenkins Orchard near Sperryville.
Apple Onion Soup Serves 6 This recipe was contributed by Café Rustica chef/owner Andy Howell, who notes, "The original, German version of this soup was made as a clear consommé, but this rendition is a lot easier and makes for a heartier and healthier soup. If you intend to finish this in the blender, the apple skins can be left on for added fiber … a savory, warm smoothie!"
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 large yellow onions, sliced
- 6 fresh, local apples (preferably a variety with snap, such as Granny Smith, Black Twig or Stayman), peeled, cored and diced
- 6 cups of hearty, good-quality beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups of toasted bread cubes for croutons (ideally the remnants of better dinner rolls)
- 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Melt the butter in a 6-quart stockpot and add the onions on medium heat for 5 minutes until they're translucent. Add the apples and stir for another 5 minutes.
Next, put in the beef stock and bay leaves, then bring the mixture to a boil and leave it to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and let the soup cool until it's easier to handle. At this point you can choose your own consistency. For a chunkier potage, use a stick/hand blender and pulse until you're happy. For a velvety finish, run it through a standing blender. Reheat the soup and add salt and pepper when you're ready to serve. Top the soup with croutons and cheese just before it hits the table.