The days are getting shorter, the nights longer and colder and the fallen russet leaves of the trees are swirling in piles and crunching underfoot as you make your way home. That can only mean one thing. It’s time for some seasonal soup for fall.
There’s no better time that the fall to gather fresh ingredients for a variety of warming soups. If it’s damp outside there will be mushrooms to be gathered. From good old field mushrooms to ceps and girolles, each offers a unique earthy, autumnal flavor for making wonderful soup. Simmer gently and add in some crème fraiche, cream or even a little yoghurt to set your mouth watering in anticipation.
Don’t walk past those fallen chestnuts out in the park. Gather them in a bag and take them home to shell. Slow-boiled and then peeled and mashed they make a wonderful base for a sweet-tasting soup. You could add it to your mushroom soup or maybe combine the chestnut purée with some pumpkin – they’re in season too!
If you’re not in a tropical or sub-tropical climate, fall is just about the end of the season for beetroot. This rich, red beauty has many health-giving attributes as well as tasting delicious. The Russians use beetroot as a base for a soup called Borscht. You can make a vegetarian version using onion, carrot and garlic with the beetroot – or if you want something meaty and chunky, try adding some ground beef.
Some other seasonal vegetables include carrots, turnips, leeks and butternut squash. All of these can make scrumptious ingredients for warming soups, but here are two of my own favorites:
Butternut Squash soup with ginger and chilli
Peel and cut your squash into cubes. Cut a piece of fresh root ginger about a half an inch long (2cms) and chop it as finely as you can or grate it. De-seed and chop finely a small red chili (if you can’t find a fresh chili or fresh ginger the powders may be used, but use only a half teaspoonful of each.
Boil about a pint and a half of water and add a vegetable stock cube. Carefully put in the diced squash and bring back to the boil. Simmer with a lid on until the squash is soft. Then remove the lid and reduce by about one third volume. Remove from heat and allow to cool before blending thoroughly.
Re-heat and serve in large bowls, topped with a generous spoonful of fresh cream and if you like some chopped parsley for a garnish.
Leek and Potato soup with grated cheese
Take one leek and three medium potatoes for each person. Clean the leeks thoroughly to avoid any sandiness and wash the potatoes in clean water. Then peel the potatoes and chop them into small pieces. Cut the leek into ‘roundels’. Cover the leek and potatoes with half a pint of vegetable stock for each portion. Bring to the boil and simmer for about half an hour on a very low heat.
Remove from heat and when cool enough, blend into soup. Re-heat as necessary and when served in bowls sprinkle a generous helping of grated cheese on top. I like to use Emmental or English Cheddar, but any hard cheese is good.
Enjoy the fruits of fall in a variety of warming soups.