Soup magic is as easy as sautéing some seasonal vegetables and aromatics, adding some stock, sprinkling with spice and then letting the whole thing boil and bubble. Casting a spell with some new recipes can result in an enchanting fall menu.
Fall’s First Glow. As soon as the last elephant ears are consumed at Minnesota’s famous state fair, thoughts turn to autumn and all of its cozier, heartier fare, especially soup.
“The second we get a chill in the air, we harken back to our food memories of comforting soup, a good group of people and a warm fireplace,” says Scott Pampuch, district executive chef at the University of Minnesota, Aramark.
Still, it’s important that fall soups represent sunny golden days, rather than acting as a herald of ice and sleet. In other words: Don’t rush the magic.
“We anticipate the Indian Summer moment: a week or two of warmer weather,” Pampuch says. “You don’t have to go directly to richer, heavier potato soups right away. That means a butternut squash soup with yogurt instead of cream, making it a little lighter. There’s plenty of winter coming…We don’t have to hunker down just yet.”
Pampuch’s Butternut, Apple and Star Anise Soup is a featured item at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, more than 1,000 acres of prairie land, part of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Science.
This soup’s magic is in the pairing of mildly sweet butternut squash and star anise. Within every recipe, Pampuch looks for a perfect pairing, and in this case, the star anise adds an unexpected alchemy to the soup.
Star anise may seem a little avant-garde, maybe even...scary, but, “If you’ve had pumpkin pie, you’re halfway there” to appreciating this pairing, Pampuch says. “The brightness and the almost menthol note of the star anise also work really well with the woodsy rosemary.” Apples add another fall flavor.
A Trick for a Healthier Soup
“It’s just…magical,” says Wren Roberts, managing director of support services at Centra Health in Lynchburg, VA. He’s describing the new fall soups that will appear on both retail and patient menus this fall as the Virginia trees on the country roads begin to change color.
“We’re offering a butternut squash soup and an extra-healthy version of minestrone,” Roberts says. The minestrone switches out traditional spinach for superstar superfood kale. The kale is cut into a chiffonade and sautéed in olive oil along with chopped red onions and minced garlic before traditional minestrone ingredients are added and simmered. Let the magic begin!
Smoky Apple & Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 large onions, finely chopped (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks (about 6 cups)
1 lb. sweet apples, peeled and cut into chunks (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 cup apple juice (more if necessary)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1. Heat oil and butter in large saucepan; add onions and chili powder; cook and stir until onions are tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Add squash, apples, apple juice, chicken broth, salt and pepper; bring to boil.
3. Cover and cook on low heat until apples and squash are very soft, about 30 minutes. Cool.
4. Puree with an immersion blender or food processor. Return to saucepan.
5. Add additional apple juice or broth, if needed.
6. Garnish with toasted pecans, sour cream swirls and thin apple slices, if desired. Makes about 7 cups.
Photo and recipe: U.S. Apple Association
Mushroom Capuccino Soup with Honey Mezcal Crème Recipe
YIELD: 6 servings
2 Tbsps. unsalted butter
1 large shallot, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
4 cups oyster or crimini mushrooms
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
3 qts. chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup good Mezcal
1 Tbsp. honey
Spanish paprika, to taste
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, add the shallot slices and sauté until translucent. Add the bay leaf, thyme and mushrooms and cook until caramelized. Add the sherry vinegar and continue cooking until liquid evaporates. Add the chicken stock and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth, then pour through a colander. In a mixer, add the cream and Mezcal and whip on medium until the cream starts to thicken. Pour in the honey and continue mixing until the cream forms stiff peaks. To serve top each cup of mushroom with sprinkles of Spanish paprika and a dollop of the crème.
Photo and recipe: National Honey Board
New England-Style Clam Chowder Recipe
YIELD: 24 servings
3/4 lb. diced bacon
1 1/2 lbs. thinly sliced celery
1 1/2 lbs. chopped onions
2 1/2 lbs. canned minced clams
6 cups bottled clam juice
5 1/2 lbs. canned cream-style corn
12 cups frozen hash browns
9 cups soy milk
1 1/2 tsps. salt
1 1/2 cups minced parsley
1. In large pot over medium-low heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and reserve, leaving drippings in pot. Add celery and onions to drippings; sauté over medium heat 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Drain clams, reserving liquid.
2. Add reserved liquid, clam juice, corn, potatoes, soymilk and salt to pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in clams, reserved bacon and parsley.
Photo and recipe: Kikkoman
Hearty American Lamb and Barley Soup Recipe
YIELD: 12 servings
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 American lamb leg bone
4 garlic cloves, peeled, sliced thin
1 cup pearled barley
1 cup broth or stock
1 lb. American lamb leg meat, roasted, shredded
6 shallots, sliced
1 cup baby carrots, sliced 1Ž4”
1 cup celery, diced medium
1 cup Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced medium
1 cup Crimini mushrooms, sliced
sea or kosher salt to taste and ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup basil, mint, parsley, oregano, finely chopped
1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat olive oil; add lamb bone, garlic and barley. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add stock or broth to cover; simmer for 45 minutes.
2. Add the lamb meat, shallots, carrots, celery, tomatoes and mushrooms; simmer for 15 minutes until barley and vegetables are tender. Adjust salt and pepper as desired. Remove the bone. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with 1 tsp. of freshly chopped herbs.
Photo and recipe: American Lamb Board
Curried Carrot and Mascarpone Soup Recipe
YIELD: 4 servings
2 shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsps. olive oil
sea salt, to taste
12 oz. (about 5) carrots, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tub (8 oz.) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1. Place the shallots and garlic in olive oil in a deep saucepan, and lightly salt. Cover and cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes until limp but not brown. Add the carrots and continue to cook, covered, for 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the curry paste and chicken stock and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour.
2. Remove the soup from the heat and pour into a blender beaker or food processor bowl; blend until smooth. Return to the heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the mascarpone. Serve immediately in soup bowls.
Photo: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board