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The Call of Fall: Sip Some Soup

September 16, 2010 By:
Keri Fisher, JE Exponent
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 This time of year, when the leaves are just beginning to turn and the mornings are cool and breezy, I turn my back on cold dinners eaten on the patio and look to my favorite part of the coming autumn: simple, delicious soups.

A true cream-of-mushroom soup is hearty, earthy and deliciously savory. Like peas and carrots, the flavors of mushrooms and sherry are a divine pairing. Throw in some thyme, and you've got an autumnal trifecta that will inspire the weariest of eaters.

Mushroom soup can be incredibly rich -- sometimes too much so. While nothing warms the body on a cold fall night like a steaming bowl of soup, it's also known that nothing clogs the arteries (or adds inches to the waistline) like a steaming bowl of cream. This soup, however, only has a small amount for richness, with a starchy potato providing smoothness and body.

That same thinking holds true for classic potato-leek soup, which gets most of its body from the starchy potatoes, rather from a lot of heavy cream.

White-bean soup with kale is the heartiest of the bunch -- a taste of colder months to come. While I sadly stow away my flip-flops in favor of boots, it's meals like these that offer satisfaction.

White-Bean Soup

(Dairy)

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (19 oz. each) cannelini (white kidney) beans, drained, rinsed
1 small sprig rosemary
1 sprig sage
1 quart vegetable stock
3 cups chopped kale
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until hot, but not smoking.

Add the onions and garlic. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent.

Add the rosemary, sage, stock and white beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Place half of the solids into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Add back to soup pot and stir to combine. Bring soup back to a quick boil, remove from heat, and add the kale.

Add the Parmesan cheese.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve garnished with additional Parmesan.

Serves 6.

Potato-Leek Soup

(Dairy)

4 Tbsps. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 leeks, sliced thin and rinsed well
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 lbs. Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsps. finely chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat.

Add the onions, leeks and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until soft and translucent.

Add the potatoes and stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Purée soup in a blender in batches until smooth. Return to pot, add the cream and parsley.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 6.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

(Dairy)

3 Tbsps. butter
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 small Russet potato, diced (about 1 cup)
1 lb. assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup dry sherry
3 Tbsps. all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the onions and potato. Cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, but not browned.

Add the mushrooms and cook 5 minutes more, or until they release their liquid.

Add the sherry and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 5 minutes, or until liquid is mostly reduced.

Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Remove from heat and purée in a food processor or blender. Return to heat, add heavy cream and thyme, and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4.

Easy Alphabet Soup

(Pareve)

3 Tbsps. butter
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 small Russet potato, diced (about 1 cup)
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup alphabet pasta
1 cup frozen peas
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the carrots, onions, and potato. Cook 5 minutes, or until softened, but not browned.

Add the tomato sauce and vegetable stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Increase heat to high and add the pasta. Cook 5 minutes.

Add the peas and cook for 1 minute, or until heated through. Add the thyme.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 adults or 6 kids.

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