Curried Pumpkin Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (can substitute fresh diced pumpkin or butternut squash)
Juice of 1 orange
3 cups milk or almond milk (you can also add a can of coconut milk for richness)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
8 small pieces of toast, or crackers (optional)

In a large skillet over medium-high, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and half of the onions. Saute until onions are very soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the maple syrup and half the ginger, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring often, until the onions are thick and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven over medium-high, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining onion, the curry powder, red pepper flakes, remaining ginger, and the apples. Saute until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. (If you are using fresh pumpkin or squash, saute it with the apples and onion until soft). Mix in the pumpkin puree and orange juice, then transfer everything in the Dutch oven to a blender or food processor. Add the milk and puree until smooth.

Return the soup to the pot and return to a gentle simmer. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, then top each serving with 2 crackers or pieces of toast. Arrange some of the caramelized onions over the crackers or toast. Makes 4 servings.

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