Living in Michigan, where apple production ranks number three in the States, the harvest of this fruit peaks in late September through early October. There are so many apples to choose from that I have a great time every week at the farm markets buying a mixed bag of a dozen.
Apples are wonderful to teach the youngest of children about our faith. When you cut an apple in half along the equatorial plane, the cross section in the core looks like a star; the five-pointed Epiphany Star. Most of you will remember from the teachings of the Church that the Epiphany is a celebration of the manifestation of the Incarnation of Jesus, the Christ. The five seeds inside the five-pointed star stand for the five wounds of Christ. Other stars in our traditions are the four-point star, often used in art as the star over the place where the child Jesus was born and called the Bethlehem or Natal Star. The eight-pointed star is known as the Star of Redemption, while the six-pointed star, two triangles interlocked is called the Star of David.
A second apple story used to teach about the Trinity is cut an apple in half from top to bottom and note the three parts: skin, meat and seeds. The outer skin represents the Father who encompasses all, Jesus is the meat of the fruit that feeds us, and the seeds are the Holy Spirit that when planted, will bring new life. An apple wouldn’t be an apple if any one of these elements was missing; so, too, with the Trinity.
Now, since you’re cutting up all those apples for educational purposes, how about a recipe! This is a savory and sweet soup more for the adult pallet; cut the spices by half for kids.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion (Vidalia is best)
2 1/2 cups (about a pound) chopped peeled Pink Lady apples (or any slightly tart apple is fine—Granny Smiths are too sour!)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dry
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) chopped peeled parsnip
1 clove garlic finely chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup apple cider (don’t use apple juice)
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sour cream dollops when serving
In a stock pot, sauté onions in oil until tender. Add apples, curry, ginger, and cardamom. Simmer for about a minute to dissolve spices, stirring constantly. Add broth, parsnips, garlic, and cider. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until parsnips are tender. CAREFULLY blend soup until smooth using a blender (or immersion blender). Serve with sour cream.
A side note here…I like to use oven roasted parsnips. They tend to be sweeter and lend a fuller flavor to the soup. Of course, your stove-top cooking time will be reduced.
Tony Esolen, our newest family member at the Catholic hub on Patheos.com, shared with me a small bit of information about the word, apple. The Old English word “aeppel” did not mean “apple” but “fruit” in general, excluding berries. So the early translations of the Bible into English that use “apple” are not really specifying the type of fruit it was. Not until the 17th century did the word apple come to mean only the pome and not all the other fruits. Our word “fruit” comes from the French, after the Norman Conquest (cf. Latin fructus). The word “fruit” in Hebrew is p’ri, and is used as “be fruitful and multiply.”