Fall Vegetable Soup

Fall is my favorite food season. I enjoy the hearty, earthy flavors of fall vegetables and wait patiently through the year for the weather to cool down just enough to spur me to make big satisfying pots of chili or stew. Inspired by the produce that has begun to show up in the grocery stores recently, I decided to make a pot of vegetable soup.

For my fall-inspired variation on vegetable soup, I  used:

  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 small Sweet Dumpling squash
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 oz of Baby Portobello mushrooms
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can Cannellini beans
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 2 Russet potatoes
  • 1/2 bunch Lacinato kale
  • 1/2 bunch Swiss chard
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Salt and pepper
Ingredients for vegetable soup
Ingredients for vegetable soup

For the soup, start with the traditional carrots, celery, and onion. Peel and dice the carrots, cut the celery stalks in half lengthwise and dice the halves, mince the garlic, and finely chop the onion. To this traditional mix, also chop about four ounces of baby portobello mushrooms and prepare a Sweet Dumpling squash.

To prepare the Sweet Dumpling squash, cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and carefully peel the the skin of the squash off with a sharp knife. Dice the squash flesh into pieces about the same size as the pieces of diced carrots.

Sweet Dumpling Squash
Diced Sweet Dumpling squash

In a 6-quart cast-iron dutch oven, cook four slices of bacon (halved) on medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside for later. For a healthier option, leave out the bacon and add olive oil to the pot instead.

Bacon
Bacon? Yes please.

After removing the cooked bacon, add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and squash to the pot with the bacon grease, cooking about 15 minutes until the vegetables soften.

Vegetables for the soup
Vegetables for the soup

Once the vegetables soften, add dried sage and thyme (about a half teaspoon each) and the can of diced tomatoes with their juices. Add in the chopped mushroom and the can of cannellini beans. Mix well and pour in the chicken broth.

Bring the soup to boil and reduce the heat to medium low. Dice the Russet potatoes and add them to the simmering soup.

Diced Russet Potatoes
Diced Russet potatoes

After about 10 minutes, check to see if the potatoes are soft. While the soup simmers, wash and cut the kale and Swiss chard into 1 inch squares., removing the stem. When the potatoes are soft, add kale and chard to the soup.

Kale and chard added to the soup
Add the kale and chard to the soup

As the kale and chard begins to wilt, stir the soup well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fall vegetable soup simmering on the stove
Fall vegetable soup simmering on the stove

This hearty, fall inspired soup is full of vegetables and flavor. The Sweet Dumpling squash, mushrooms, kale, and chard provide a tasty twist on more traditional vegetable soups. Bowls of this warm soup offer earthy, satisfying flavors of the season, perfect for the Fall’s cooler weather.

Bowls of fall vegetable soup
Bowls of fall vegetable soup

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I wrote the review below two years ago when I first listened to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. This week, as we criss cross the state, Artie is joining me as I listen to the book again. So far we’ve listened to about 3 hours and it is just as good, if not better, than I remembered. As evidenced by the review below, I’m a huge fan of this book and would put it at the top of a list of great summer reads for anyone interested in food.

Okay, so technically I’m not reading this book, I’m listening to it. Regardless of the delivery mechanism, I am ingesting every morsel of this tasty read and every serving leaves me hungry for more. So far I’ve listened to about five hours of this 14-1/2 hour audiobook. The 2007 book by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp, and Camille Kingsolver is part memoir and part journalistic investigation. The book tells the story of how one family spent a year deliberately eating only locally produced food. The writing is engaging and, at times, almost conversational in a way that draws the reader and/or listener into the story. In addition to talking about the family garden, feeding a party crowd with only locally produced food, and the joys of eating freshly cut asparagus, the book outlines real problems related to our food, including the controversy over genetically modified foods, greedy seed companies, the problem of food distribution, and the extinction of the local farmer in favor of large, subsidized, commodity crops. The sidebars by Hopp provide information about numerous topics that are interesting to me, including the cycle of poverty and hunger, where he gives a shout out to Heifer Project International – yeah! I know my review isn’t doing justice to this wonderful book. Let me conclude by saying that this book is interesting, engaging, and thought-provoking. Although I consider myself a person who is conscious about the size of my carbon footprint, and the quality of my (mostly vegetarian) food, this book has prodded me to think more closely about seeking out fresh, local produce. Although Artie and I already travel to Bainbridge on a regular basis to raid the in-laws garden, there are still many foods that we eat that travel a long distance, and are therefore heavy laden with oil. Not literally laden with oil, but lots of oil went into producing and transporting the food. For what? The convenience of out-of-season, watery tomatoes? Tomatoes that were bred for uniform size and disease resistance, perhaps to the detriment of their flavor? This book has asked me to consider whether I am willing to seek out local, seasonal flavors, and reduce the amount of oil in my food. Whether I am willing to pay a little bit more to make sure that the family farmer doesn’t become a thing of the past, relegated to the pages of children’s book and folk lore. More to come as I progress through this juicy read. Pun intended.

More information: http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com