Fall can be a fickle season: on the warm side one day, chilly the next.
Why not celebrate the season with some sublime fall soups, potages that showcase autumn’s harvest and work equally well no matter what the temperature?
And we’re dipping into several of the hottest cookbooks for inspiration.
Food maven and frequent Bon Appetit magazine writer Betty Rosbottom believes there’s a soup for every season, but she came to that realization only later in life.
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“The soups of my youth,” she writes, “came from a can.”
That’s all changed now. Rosbottom’s latest book, “Sunday Soup: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering, Easy-to-Make Recipes”(Chronicle Books, $19.95, 168 pages), contains 60 such creations, from a richly robust, roasted tomato with homemade garlic croutons — we guarantee, you’ll never use store-bought croutons again — to a velvety carrot soup spiked with cumin and fresh lime that works beautifully hot or cold.
Deborah Madison, the cofounder of San Francisco’s Greens restaurant and a best-selling cookbook author, gives vegetarians plenty to savor in “Vegetable Soups From Deborah Madison’s Kitchen” (Broadway Books, $19.95, 230 pages). During transitional seasons like fall, she suggests giving classic split pea soup a lighter, more refreshing take by adding fresh peas, rosemary and fresh lemons. (A drizzle of a nice balsamic vinegar, instead of the lemon, is a flavorful alternative.)
One doesn’t normally associate butternut squash with Mexican cuisine, says Marcela Valladolid in her new book “Fresh Mexico: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor” (Clarkson Potter, $22.50, 240 pages). But the vivid golden squash appears in many authentic south-ofthe-border dishes, and the seeds are often used in sauces. Here, she blends the rich autumnal squash with the smoky hot flavors of chipotle chiles and adobo sauce.
And this being the year of all-things Julia Child — the movie “Julie & Julia” topped the $90 million mark last week, and her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” has spent more than two months atop Amazon’s bestsellers list — we’re giving a nod to the woman who discovered her, editor Judith Jones. Jones’ new cookbook, “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” (Alfred A. Knopf 2009, $27.95, 273 pages), includes a Potage Parmentier homage to Child.
This creamy leek and potato soup is such a favorite, Jones notes in her book, “I usually plant a couple of rows of leeks in my garden so I can indulge myself at a moment’s notice.”
LEEK AND POTATO SOUP
1 large leek, or 2 slightly slimmer ones 1 smallish onion 2 small-to-medium new potatoes 1 tablespoon butter 3 cups water or more Salt, fresh ground pepper 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream, optional
Trim the leeks, discarding the tough green tops, and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Rinse thoroughly and drain. Peel and chop the onion and potatoes.
Melt the butter in a heavy pot and saute the onion for a few minutes. Add the leeks and potatoes and sweat them over low heat for another few minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the water and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Cook at a lively simmer, with cover askew, for 1 hour, until the potatoes are velvety soft. Now mash roughly with a potato masher or slotted spoon. Add considerably more salt to taste, and a few grindings of the pepper mill. Serve as is, or swirl some cream on top. Makes 1 to 2 servings.
From “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” Judith Jones (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009) The Wichita Eagle—10/14/09
CARROT SOUP WITH CUMIN AND LIME
2 tablespoons olive oil 2 lbs. carrots, peeled and chopped 2 cups chopped leeks 1 tablespoon chopped garlic 3½ teaspoons ground cumin ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 6½ cups chicken stock 8 tablespoons sour cream, divided 2 tablespoons lime juice Kosher salt, pepper Garnish: chopped cilantro and grated lime zest
Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot and leeks and saute until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add cumin and red pepper flakes and saute 30 seconds more.
Add the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered, about 35 minutes.
Puree the soup in batches and return soup to the pot. Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lime juice stirred into each bowl. Or cool the soup, whisk in 6 tablespoons of sour cream and refrigerate for three hours or overnight. When ready to serve, stir in lime juice, season to taste and serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of cilantro and lime zest. Makes 6 servings.
From “Sunday Soup” by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books, $19.95, 168 pages) The Wichita Eagle—10/14/09
CREAM OF SPLIT AND FRESH PEA SOUP
2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon butter 1 large onion, diced 2 carrots, diced 1 large celery rib, including any pale leaves, diced 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary, divided 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 2 bay leaves 2 garlic cloves, chopped Sea salt, fresh pepper ½ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika 1 cup green split peas, soaked for 1-2 hours 2 cups fresh or frozen peas 1 cup half-and-half Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Heat the oil and butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, half the rosemary, parsley and bay leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add garlic, 1½ teaspoons salt and the paprika and cook a few minutes more.
Add the split peas and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, about an hour. Add fresh peas; cook 2 minutes more.
Add the half-and-half and puree the soup in batches. Return the soup to the pot. Add remaining rosemary and lemon zest, and heat. Season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice and paprika. Serve with a sprinkling of homemade croutons. Makes about 2 quarts
From “Vegetable Soups From Deborah Madison’s Kitchen” by Deborah Madison (Broadway Books 2006, $19.95, 230 pages)
The Wichita Eagle—10/14/09
MUSHROOM AND BARLEY SOUP
2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms 2 tablespoons margarine 1 large onion, thinly sliced 2 ribs celery with leaves, diced ¼ cup parsley 1 carrot, peeled and sliced 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1 lb. fresh porcini or other mushrooms 1 tablespoon flour 2 quarts beef broth or water 1 cup whole barley 2 teaspoons salt
Soak the mushrooms in enough hot water to cover for a half hour. Strain through a filter. Reserve the water. Coarsely chop the dried mushrooms.
Melt the margarine in a stockpot and saute the onion, celery, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, carrot, garlic, and fresh mushrooms until soft, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add the flour, stirring every 30 seconds for about 5 minutes or until thick. In a soup pot heat the broth or water. Add a cup of mushroom mixture at a time to the pot, stirring. Turn the heat to high, and add the reserved mushroom water and barley. Stir well and add salt to taste. Simmer, covered, for about an hour or until the barley is tender and the soup is thickened, stirring often. Add additional chopped parsley, mix thoroughly, and adjust seasonings. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
From “Jewish Cooking in America” by Joan NathanThe Wichita Eagle—10/14/09