I bet you’re looking at this post and thinking “those pictures look nothing like French onion soup.”  Well you are correct.  When I prepared this story to share, I had completely forgotten that I had promised my quick and easy Cupboard to Table French onion soup recipe for this week.  So instead you get a sneak peek at a taste of the holidays and next week I’ll tell you how to make the tastiest, easiest and best last-minute soup of your life!

So for today’s story, I want to share one of my favourite holiday must-haves.  Something that I keep in my house starting in the fall all the way through to the New Year – unfiltered, not-from-concentrate apple juice.  This apple juice is characteristic in its medium brown colour, as opposed to the clear bright golden colour of filtered apple juice.  Unfiltered apple juice goes by many names such as fresh-pressed apple juice, unfiltered apple juice and apple cider just to name a few variations.

This type of juice is available in most grocery stores in the refrigerated (not frozen) juice section.  It is sold most commonly in 2 Litre or 4 Litre containers (1/2 or 1 gallon).  The main commonality is that it’s not from concentrate.  Not from concentrate juices typically don’t have any added sugars and have the nutritional qualities of the fruits that the juice was prepared from.  I have learned that keeping this juice in the fridge is one of the most versatile additions to your holiday repertoire.

One of my primary uses for this juice is for a warm fall or winter cocktail.  I gently heat it on the stove, sometimes add nutmeg or cinnamon and drink it in a mug by itself or add an ounce of whisky, rum, or cinnamon whisky.  This is one of the easiest winter cocktails you can make for yourself or serve to your guests.  I like to garnish it with a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick.

Aside from drinking it, unfiltered apple juice is extremely versatile in the kitchen.  I have used this juice in squash soups as a sweet complement to the savoury stock, in turkey gravy with sage leaves, in a pan of roasted vegetables and as additional moisture in holiday stuffing.

This juice tastes like a decadent treat, is extremely versatile in the kitchen and is healthy and usually preservative and additive free.  Factor in a reasonable price and you have a winning ingredient to give you that taste of the holidays.

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Written by, AHWD Cooking Expert – Dan Saunders