It seems this year the cold weather has come upon us more quickly than in seasons past. Or, maybe I’m still in the summer frame of mind and my body is in denial!

Anyway, the cold snap in the air has me craving some warm soup. I love to make soup when I have company over because it’s truly something that is a labor of love. All the chopping, stirring, and sauteeing requires some amount of attention. And the soup you get at Wawa just doesn’t have the same full-bodied aroma and freshness of ingredients that a home cooked one does. Add some bread and meat and you have a meal! 

I’ve found that a metal saucepan works better than a dutch oven because as the soup is sitting (after it is cooked), it tends to evaporate faster in the dutch oven (and you end up with a reduced soup). 

The first soup is a Butternut Squash Soup recipe that my mom makes often. One time I tried blending it in my food processor. What a mess! The heat of the soup cracked my processor’s bowl! Soup was leaking and I had to quickly unplug it. So, I would recommend a blender or my favorite–the hand blender. Wear rubber gloves so you don’t splash your hands with hot liquid. 

The hardest part of this recipe is cutting the squash. Make sure you use a sharp knife (I sharpen mine on the underside of a mug!) I usually cut it in half so that the thick end and the skinny end are separated. Then, I cut the skinny end into thick rings that I cut the sides off. The fat end is a bit trickier. I cut off the base so it lies flat on the board and then go around to cut the sides off. Be sure to take out the seeds with a spoon! The recipe calls for a 2 lb squash, cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Also, put in some carrots (2-3) for a nice flavor addition. 

1) Chop 1 large onion

2) Melt 5 tbsp of butter in a large saucepan (med-high heat). Add onion and sautee for 5 minutes.

3) Add squash and sautee 5 minutes. 

4) Add 4 cups of chicken broth and a pinch of nutmeg

5) Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. 

6) Blend with hand blender or in a blender

7) Stir in some cream or milk (you can even do without this)

8) add more stock if needed to get right consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

9) Enjoy!

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I’ve tried long and hard to find a great soup recipe that is hearty and satisfying. I am itching to make this one again…Michael Chiarello’s (of the Food Network) Super Quick Minestrone . Every time I make it someone asks for the recipe and my hubby is a big fan, too. The pancetta is the key as well as cooking the noodles separately so they don’t get flabby. When I reheat the next day, I just put the noodles in a bowl or saucepan, add the soup and heat up! Be sure to add the parmesan cheese, too. It adds just that extra touch to make it restaurant-quality. 

I get the pancetta and rosemary from a specialty market near me (Fairway Market). I ask the butcher to cut it into a quarter to half inch slabs. Then, when I get home, I cut that into little bite sized pieces. I also take out some of the oil after the pancetta cooks so that the soup isn’t too fatty. The rosemary can be a bit strong, so cut it in half if you dislike the odor. Remember to only use the spiky leaves off the Rosemary–you don’t want to use the stems. 

Get the recipe HERE. (78 five star reviews have to be good, right?) If you have any questions on the recipe or while cooking it, feel free to email me!

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Another great soup I’ve tried is  Seafood and Turkey-Sausage Gumbo. I’m not a big fan of the thick broth of gumbo and in this recipe, the soup is definitely more tomatoey and like a bouillabaise. I didn’t put the catfish in–I thought shrimp and sausage was enough meat. 

The hardest part is getting the base of the soup right. Be sure to use a wooden spoon when you stir the flour (I ended up “melting” my nonstick spoon). Usually the base is flour and butter mixed together (called a roux)–in this recipe (probably to lighten it up) you cook the flour by itself. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to add a little butter. 

A nice addition is to make it truly like a bouillabaise and put bread with Rouille in the middle. The French put a small slab of toasted bread with Rouille spread on it in the middle of the soup. I make Rouille in a mini chopper (came with my hand blender). What is Rouille? It’s a heavenly mixture of roasted red peppers, garlic, soft bread, soup broth, & olive oil. I like Rachael Ray’s version in her Bouillabaise recipe: Link here. (hint: this makes a great dip, too)

Here’s the link to the Gumbo recipe I mentioned above: Link here

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Well, I hope your family enjoys one of these delicious soups to help take the edge off those chilly evenings! Curl up on the couch with a good book, a blanket, some soup and toasted bread/butter and tell everyone you need some ME time 🙂

(if you have a favorite fall recipe, please share the link!)