Cider-baked apples and a bean soup


When we made the decision to leave Florida, all I craved were seasons. I knew from that moment on I could only live in a place where leaves turn ochre and the rain turns everything blue. I suppose in some ways I just searched for my childhood environment – a place I felt comfortable.

Seattle is turning to be that.

And more.

This autumn in Seattle has been quite impressive. Dense and rich.

Everyone I know has been out on the street early morning trying to capture the fog. Haunting in a way, but fascinating.

Then there is the light.



It just saturates everything around me.

Jones Creek Farm

Jones Creek Farm


I have professed my love for apples here before. Definitely the one fruit I could eat and cook with for the rest of my life. Remember these madeleines, this soup, this savory crumble, these muffins, and just so many more.

Recently we visited Jones Creek Farms in Sedro-Wooley. Over 80 varieties of heirloom apples and pears awaited us. The pink pearl apples particularly caught my eye… White and bright pink interior with yellowish skin.

So beautiful to photograph.

Jon and Miren ran around the perfectly-lined orchard, sipped apple cider like there was no tomorrow and picked their favorite odd-shaped pumpkins from the patch.

Isn’t that what kids love to do anyway? So we did.


Cannellini stew with fennel, clams, mussels and raw yolk

Cannellini stew with fennel, clams, mussels and raw yolk


And so all this has led me back into the kitchen.

I remembered the baked compote my mom used to make with apples, dried apricots and cinnamon when I was growing up. She still makes it every autumn in fact. Konpota as we call it in Basque.

I baked my apples filled with butter, cranberries and pistachios. With a touch of sea salt and basted in hard cider, vanilla bean and cinnamon.

Autumn in a baking dish.

Something I eat with a spoon, because as I have said it many times, anything I can eat with a spoon makes me happy.

There have also been lots of soups as you might imagine. Like this cannellini bean and fennel soup topped with mussels, clams and crispy pancetta. Recipe follows.


Baked apples in cider with cranberries and pistachios

Baked apples in cider with cranberries and pistachios

And as Jon would say….

This is how we roll around here.

Happy autumn!

Cider-baked apples with cranberries and pistachios

serves 4

1 cup (250 ml) hard cider
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 cinnamon stick
1 pound apples (about 4 medium ones or a bunch of small ones like I used)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup (30 g) dried unsweetened cranberries, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted pistachios, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons brown sugar, plus more for topping
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375F (190C).

Combine the cider, vanilla bean and seeds and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it simmers, remove from heat and steep for 15 minutes.

Cut the tops of the apples and core the seeds and tough core out with a knife trying to leave a bit of a bottom so filling doesn’t melt out of the apples while baking. Rub the tops of the apples with a bit of lemon juice to stop them from oxidizing and turning brown.

In a small bowl, mix together the cranberries, pistachios, butter, brown sugar and salt. Fill the cavity of the apples with this mixture letting some come out of the cavity. Place the tops back on top. Sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on top of the apples and place them on a small baking tray. We want them to be a little bit close and tight so they don’t fall apart.

Pour the cider with the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick on the bottom of the tray. Bake the apples until tender and tops are caramelized, about 40 minutes but will vary depending on the size of the apples. Baste them every 10 to 15 minutes with the cider.

Serve warm or at room temperature. They can also be made ahead, kept in the refrigerator and reheated right before serving.

Cannellini bean soup with pancetta, mussels and clams

serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices pancetta, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 fennel bulb, diced
Pinch of salt
2 cans cooked cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock
1 dozen mussels
1 dozen clams
1/2 cup (125 ml) white wine
Bunch of chervil
4 raw egg yolks (optional)

Heat a medium cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta and cook until golden and crispy. Remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside.

Add the shallot, garlic, fennel and pinch of salt and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until tender but not too brown. Add the beans and chicken stock. Bring the chicken stock to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes.

Heat a medium pot over medium high heat. Add the mussels, clams and white wine. Cover the pot and cook until the mussels and clams open. Remove them from the pot as soon as they are open. Some might open sooner than others so keep checking and taking them out in batches. Discard any unopen mussels or clams. Strain the cooking liquid and add it to the beans. Remove pot from heat and add the mussels and clams. Stir all together.

Serve the soup topped with chervil and crispy pancetta. If you choose to serve the soup with the raw yolk, stir it into the soup while still hot. It will thicken and enrichen it.

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51 Responses to “Cider-baked apples and a bean soup”

  1. Such stunning photos Aran!!! Those leave and that mist, just beautiful. Baked apples is something I adore but it’s been too long since I’ve made them, thanks for the reminder :-)

    • Aran says:

      I would love to hear what you think of this recipe. Thanks!

    • Pamela says:

      Thanks for the beautiful image of the baked apples. My Mom would make these and stuff them with raisins. I will certainly try the cranberries this time.

      Regarding the change of seasons; I grew up on the east coast (NJ) and have been living in Northern CA (Bay Area) for the past 25 years. We do get a beautiful autumn with leaves displaying their colors and the cold, rainy days. There’s an occasional snowfall atop of Mt. Diablo near my home. Loving the fall is actually “visceral” for me and cannot imagine life without the changing seasons!!

      Your bean soup recipe looks amazing…. a must try! Thank you!

  2. Lynne says:

    Aran, I am so pleased to read and see how you and your family have embraced the Pacific Northwest!
    Our Autumn has been so beautiful this year. Enjoy the new beauty and traditions ahead!

  3. Rosa says:

    A beautiful post! Both the baked apples and soup look mouthwatering and comforting.



  4. Melissa says:

    Well I love the way you roll! The photos capture so perfectly what has been a most beautiful fall and the warmth of your kitchen. I love the shot of the steaming bowl of soup (and all the rest too) and the sounds of the apple compote with the dried apricots and cinnamon! So happy you are enjoying your new home.

  5. Liria says:

    I can see from this post that you are feeling very happy in your new home. I love the color of that red tree, is amazing. You remembered me to my grandma Pepa, she used to add egg yolks to soups too. She told me that also her mother, that was very poor, used to do it but only when you where sick as a little gift because she couldn’t afford to buy eggs for everyone.

    • Aran says:

      I remember a specific dish of potatoes, peas, garlic and parsley (patatas en salsa verde) that my mom used to always add a raw yolk to thicken it and add more substance. I suppose it was a very common thing. So good!

  6. nusrat2010 says:

    I visit your blog because of your passion for photography that is smeared all over your posts. I come here on your space to see mother nature through your eyes. I spend time on your blog to learn unique recipes that come straight from your heart. Your outstanding food styling also allures me to pop over your blog.

    Thank You :)

  7. Absolutely gorgeous photos! I feel like I went apple picking with you!!

  8. Bee says:

    Saw the picture of the soup on Instagram and was hoping you would post the recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

  9. Kulsum says:

    I’m convinced I need to live where you do! So beautiful Aran.

  10. Ashley says:

    Beautiful. So happy you are here! You captured the gorgeous blue-toned light beautifully.

  11. Catherine says:

    Two amazing recipes! I love baked apples, and you’ve captured their essence so beautifully here.

  12. That orchard looks and sounds enchanting; I love discovering new-to-me varieties of apples. You captured it – and autumn – so beautifully!

    I’d forgotten about baked apples; we usually make them every fall, but we’ve been so busy. And now I know why I’ve been saving that cider in the fridge. ;)

  13. Cheryl says:

    I don’t think your words and images could be more warming. Totally stunning lovey.

  14. Anne W. says:

    What an inspiration you are! I’m always thrilled when I see you have a new post. I just got a new camera yesterday, and browsing through your website is such a teaching tool. Thanks so much for sharing your gift with the world!

  15. Shelby says:

    What a cozy, inviting and ambient post…. I love the twist on baked apples you did and look forward to trying them out this holiday season! Happy to hear you’re enjoying Seattle, there is something so wonderfully mysterious about the weather there…

  16. Dena says:

    Really beautiful, Aran. I am so glad you are making Seattle home. May you and your family find every happiness there. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. D

  17. Cecília says:

    Beautiful post, as always
    Veremos algun dia las fotos del taller que hiciste en el País Vasco ?
    Espero que si , yo al menos las espero. Gracias

  18. Daniela says:

    I love the fog, especially if I don’t have to drive and then cuddle up in front of a wood burning fire!

  19. Eva says:

    Preciosas fotos como siempre! Y tu plato me hace salivar, tiene una pinta buenisima!
    Me encanta el otoño!!

  20. chelsea says:

    wowza!!! you capture the fog beautifully. and i still can’t get over the still life apple shot with the crocheted cloth. crazy beautiful.

  21. Naz says:

    Beautiful post Aran. Reminds me so much of my hometown Vancouver, BC. I look forward to making the soup and the baked apples. My 7 and 4 year old love clams and mussels and I know they can roll with the baked apples. I also love seeing the addition of the raw egg yolk. There is a traditional Persian dish of rice and kabob and we also add a raw egg yolk to the rice. Can’t wait to try it in the soup.

  22. Katie says:

    This post makes me feel so nostalgic, and a little homesick. I love real apples, the small, crisp, sharp or sweet old-fashioned varieties that are easy to find in England. Eaten raw or cooked any which way. Where I am in Italy it’s hard to find anything that’s not golden delicious, gala or granny smith, it’s so depressing. I need to plant an orchard.

  23. I adored your pictures of all the apples and how you embraced the ones that were imperfect! On my little piece of property in Roslyn, WA (you should really come visit the quaint little town — its near Suncadia Resort just 90 minutes from Seattle) I have five heirloom apple trees. Feeling sorry for having so many that in the past have fallen to the ground and rotted away, this year I vowed to use up as many of them as I could. This recipe will definitely be one I will try! Simple yet delicious I am sure of it xoxo

  24. Your pictures brought tears to my eyes; they are breathtaking. My father lives in the Pacific Northwest. Now I can see the beauty he’s been talking about. Thank you.

  25. Looove that the soup includes a raw egg yolk. It includes everything the hubs probably would not eat, but that means all the more for myself.

    Gorgeous photos btw, I will take foggy rainy days over hot and humid any day.

  26. Flor de Maria says:

    Love your pictures and, like you, love and live in the Seattle area. I discovered your site by chance and now I am not leaving. Thanks

  27. These photos are lovely Aran! My grandmother used to make our family baked apples every year though since she passed, the tradition has passed as well. This post completely inspired me to start it back up again this year — these will be a wonderful addition to our Thanksgiving menu. Thanks so much for sharing, and glad to hear that your family is acclimating well! :)

  28. Oh my gosh, these all look so amazing. I can literally smell those baked apples.

  29. Lovely post! Thanks for sharing the recipe, the pictures look amazing

  30. Mmm. I came to look at the baked apples, but that stew looks so tempting…

  31. […] a few things I like: this table the second photo in this post the the wall in this photo this situation these scoops this hair red and pink together and this […]

  32. Nancy says:

    I cant believe I have been reading your blog for over three years and only now I stumbled on this post. I finally had the courage to recreate something from your blog and this will be the first. I do have a question though, I only have muffin tins and was wondering if it would be okay if I used those so the apples doesnt tip over?

    Anyways, I love reading your blogs and will hopefully have the courage enough to attend a future workshop perhaps.

    -Gaoly Nancy L.

  33. Love this dish!! Gnocchi is my favorite!

  34. […] Jenny, Val and all our children packed a picnic and headed to Jones Creek Farm for a day of apple […]

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