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October 26, 2006 By:
Louise Fiszer, JE Feature
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It's as predictable as falling leaves -- with the first crisp days of autumn, my mind turns to heartier and more sustaining menus. A month of holiday meals to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, breaking the fast of Yom Kippur and dining under the stars for Sukkot is now over, and reawakened appetites and busy back-to-school schedules replace these Jewish holiday routines. What could be more substantial, nourishing, and, of course, delicious, as a beautiful, bountiful bowl of soup?

If you are intimidated by the thought that soup-making is an all-day project, then consider the following recipes, all of which take less than an hour to make.

The rich bounty of autumn vegetables offers robust taste, color and fragrance to these creative combinations. Because none of these recipes call for large cuts of meat or long-cooking dried beans (canned are just fine), they are as convenient as they are fresh-tasting. And they are suitable for any sort of lunch or dinner menu.

The belly-filling leek-and-potato soup laced with mushrooms is perfect for an early Sunday-evening supper with friends. Add some crusty bread, a green salad and a good bottle of wine -- and voilà, your meal is complete!

Mellow white beans and pungent arugula mesh together for an intriguing combination of tastes and textures. It can be completed in 15 minutes, and is a tasty starter for a sit-down dinner party. The hearty chowder of corn, squash and turkey sausage reflects the season in flavor and color, and is also quite a crowd-pleaser.

Invite the gang for an after-game soup supper and serve it straight from your best soup pot.

Potato-and-Leek Soup With Mushrooms
[Dairy or Pareve]

2 Tbsps. butter or oil 
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms 
4 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
6 cups vegetable stock 
3 medium all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced 
1/2 cup heavy cream or pareve half-and-half 
1/4 cup chopped parsley 
salt and pepper

Heat the butter or the oil in a large pot. Cook the mushrooms until brown and crisp around edges. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

In the same pot, cook the leeks and the garlic until soft. Add the stock, bring to a boil, and stir in potatoes. Simmer, partially covered, for about 40 minutes.

Purée about 2 cups of the soup mixture in food processor or blender, and stir back into soup with the cream or the half-and-half.

Add the parsley and reserved mushrooms. Taste for salt and pepper.

Reheat, if necessary.

Serves 8.

Arugula-and-White Bean Soup
[Pareve]

3 Tbsps. olive oil 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 tsp. crushed red-pepper flakes 
5 cups vegetable stock or water 
3/4 lb. arugula (spinach or watercress may be substituted) 
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained 
salt and pepper 
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium pot.

Cook the garlic and red-pepper flakes until fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Add the stock, arugula and beans. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top (this is optional, and it will make the dish dairy).

Serves 6.

Autumn Chowder
[Meat]

3 Tbsps. oil 
2 lbs. kosher turkey or chicken sausage, halved lengthwise, and sliced 
2 onions, chopped 
2 stalks celery, chopped 
1 red pepper, chopped 
1 cup chopped tomatoes 
1/2 tsp. dried thyme 
10 cups kosher chicken stock 
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced 
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced 
2 zucchini, diced 
8 oz. Brussel sprouts, trimmed and coarsely chopped 
4 cups corn kernels 
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot.

Brown the sausage. Remove and reserve.

In the same pot, cook the onions, celery and pepper until soft, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and the thyme; cook until bubbly.

Add the stock, bring to a boil, and add the sweet potato and the butternut squash.

Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Add the zucchini, the Brussel sprouts and the corn, and simmer for another 8 minutes.

Return the sausage back to the soup.

Taste for salt and pepper.

Serves 12.

Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. Among the six books she's co-authored is Jewish Holiday Feasts.

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