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BC on a Plate: Autumn

Outside our doors, colours are slowly fading as the trees are stripped of their leaves and November’s grey sky begins to bear down on the city. Where you always find plenty of gorgeous colour, is on the plates and buffet tables inside the Civic Hotel’s meeting and event rooms. Here, Executive Cher Rajeev Arora is busy creating colour-saturated dishes using the amazing bounty of seasonal local produce available from nearby farms.

“The artistry of food is important because people eat with their eyes,” he says. “When you put something colourful on the plate, it looks really appealing, it makes you want to eat it. So you’ve won half the battle already.” While his understanding is based on thirty years of experience cooking and feeding people, it’s a belief backed up by science. Fully half our cerebral cortex is involved with visual processing, while only 1 or 2 percent is involved in taste.

Beauty aside, Chef Rajeev is also quick to point out the other values of the fresh fruits and produce filling market stalls around Surrey. “Nutritional value is very important to people here in BC. So I can substitute something like squash for some of the cream in a dish because squash is already creamy. Colourful vegetables also add important fibre.”

His squash and apple soup are just one of the ways he celebrates the best of BC’s autumn produce. The dish can be easily adapted for vegans and vegetarians. What more could you ask for on a dark, chilly autumn evening?

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Apple Soup

Ingredients

Apple for garnish

Roasted sunflower seeds (optional)

Cooking Instructions

Part A

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place butternut squash, carrot, apple, onion and garlic in a roasting pan. Drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, for 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender. Remove from oven.

Transfer roasted vegetable mixture to a saucepan and add chicken stock. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and soup thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Transfer to a blender and process until smooth. Return to a clean saucepan and place over low heat. Add the cream and cinnamon, blend until well combined. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soup is heated through.

Part B

In another skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, add apple. Cook, stirring constantly, until apples are almost tender, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Finish

Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with warm caramelized apple and sunflower seeds.