Image adapted from Steenbergs, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0

Apples are everywhere during these chilly autumn months, and while you’re thrilled to have these crunchy, sweet-tart fruits in season, there’s only so much pie, crisp, and crumble one can eat (or should!). If you’re up to your elbows in Galas, Pink Ladies, and Braeburns, try these inventive ways to use applesin savory autumn entrees.

1. Creamed Vegetable Soups

Autumn brings creamy soups back into our kitchens for the rest of the year, and these oh-so comforting dishes can all benefit from a hint of apple sweetness. Whether making creamed pumpkin, potato, or even broccoli and cheese soup from scratch, the subtle sweetness that apples add is really lovely against the starchy, saltiness of your soup.

To do this, simply peel and chop apples along with the rest of the vegetables going into your soup. Add them into your stockpot as they vegetables cook down and soften, and puree altogether in a blender as called for in your recipe. A good place to start is one large apple for every 4 cups of soup. (Tip: Bring out the apple flavor even more by adding just a pinch of ground cinnamon into your soup!)

2. Cheesy Gratins

Scalloped potatoes may be the most familiar gratin dish we eat in America, but zucchini squash, onions, and cauliflower are also commonly used. Your vegetable filling may be thinly sliced or diced, and doing the same with a bit of fresh apples adds a mild sweetness that complements the tanginess of the cheese inside the gratin.

To try this out, take any gratin recipe and substitute about one-quarter of the vegetables called for with apples. You need not peel the apples first; they may actually taste better with them left on (and you’ll get a bit of fiber from the skins!).

3. Hearty Chilis

Give this one a shot before you judge it. Not unlike adding beer or soda to chili in order to give it a secret boost of sweetness, adding finely chopped apples will have the same effect. If you’re afraid that your guests won’t enjoy seeing pieces of apple in their manly chili, don’t let them know that it’s there: Use a grater to finely grate the apples and they’ll seem to “melt” into your chili as it cooks.

4. Spicy Stir-Frys

Fans of certain Indian or Japanese cuisine may have encountered apples in their curry once or twice, and the fruit is no less at home in any old stir-fry you have in mind. Beef, chicken, and pork will all pair well with apples, as will tempeh for a meatless stir-fry.

When thinking flavors and seasonings to include in your apple stir-fry, keep in mind any spices that will work with the fruit: curry spices, of course, but also ginger, garlic, fresh cilantro, and any baking spices like cinnamon, cloves, or cardamom. Peel your apples if you like, and either dice or thinly slice them. Only add them to your stir-fry at the last few minutes of cooking, because you don’t want them to overcook and turn to mush.

Image adapted from Steenbergs, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0