The Formula for Fall Soups

Every year, without fail, the northern winds blow in from the Arctic, and I don my first sweater of the season. A full day of “sweater weather” means we’ve finally left “False Fall” behind. When this happens, there’s a synapse in my brain somewhere that sets off sparks, saying, “Make soup!” Thing is, the flavor possibilities of so many fall soups are overwhelmingly numerous, I made a “choose your own path” formula for great fall soups. -C

The Formula for Fall Soups

Choose your main ingredient:
cauliflower florets
skinned, chopped sweet potato
peeled, chopped butternut squash
peeled, chopped parsnips
canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
*Total weight of main ingredient(s) needs to be about 2-3 pounds. For example, two pounds butternut squash and one pound sweet potato.

For the base:
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 t. minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Choose your fruit (optional):
2 Granny Smith or Gala apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and chopped

Choose your stock:
vegetable stock
chicken stock
(For either, you will need at least 3-5 cups, just enough to cover all of the roasted main ingredients in the stock pot)

Choose your spice combination:
Pumpkin Spice: 1 T. cinnamon, 2 t. powdered ginger, 1 t. allspice, 1/2 t. nutmeg, 1/4 t. ground cloves
Chai: Pumpkin Spice recipe + 1 t. cardamom
Indian: Chai Recipe + 2 t. cumin and 2 t. curry
Stuffing: 2 t. dried sage, 1 1/2 t. dried thyme, 1/2 t. marjoram, 1/2 t. dried rosemary, 1/2 t. nutmeg
We Don’t Know What to Call it But It’s Delicious: 2 t. curry, 2 t. coriander, 2 t. cumin, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 t. turmeric, and 1/2 t. smoked paprika (pimenton d’espelette)

Choose your richness (optional):
1 cup half and half
1 cup coconut milk

Choose your garnishes:
togarashi pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
chopped candied pecans
goat cheese crumbles
a dollop of creme fraiche
red pepper flakes
fresh chopped parsley
fried sage leaves
chopped scallions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. For the main ingredients, spread out the vegetables into a sheet pan and toss with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Place in oven for 40-50 minutes until tender. (Of course, you do not have to do this step with the canned pumpkin puree.)
3. Meanwhile, after all of the base vegetables are chopped, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and saute the onion, celery, and carrots (the mirepoix). Stir every few minutes until translucent, then add the garlic, and salt and pepper.
4. Add in the chopped fruit (apple or pear, if desired) at this stage, and mix in the spice combination, and continue to saute until all vegetables (and fruits!) are tender. (*Note: Typically, the smaller you chop your mirepoix and fruit ahead of time will quicken the amount of time it will take for them to soften in the pot.)
4. When the mirepoix is tender, add the roasted main ingredients from the baking sheet (and if using the canned pumpkin, add it at this stage.) Add just enough stock to cover the vegetable mixture and continue to cook for about 15 minutes.
5. Turn off the heat and let the pot settle for a few minutes. (Take the bay leaves out if you used them!) Then, using a handheld immersion blender, blend the soup until pureed. Add in your richness (coconut or cream) and stir.
6. Serve with a selection of garnishes and enjoy!

You can also reserve some of the vegetable chunks to maintain some texture if you wish. There is also the method of pureeing the soup in a blender in batches, but be careful!

Butternuts are tough gourds to cut… It’s easiest to buy the butternut squash already chopped at the grocery store. If you cannot find pre-cut butternuts at the grocery store, but don’t want to do all that chopping. Just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and guts, lay open side up in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, an roast at 425 degrees for 60-70 minutes until tender.


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