A Trio of Autumn Soups

Trio of Autumn Soups

Yes, that's right, a trio. I went a little hog-wild with the soups because I am desperately seeking Fall and soup screams cozy-cool weather to me! I took my husband on an apple picking escapade to Julian, CA where I was able to pick up some beautiful squash at the farm stand, apple cider at the cider mill, and take home several pounds of apples and I wanted to come up with some great ways to use them! {More on my trip to come!} What better way to fill an 85-degree October day than with soup making?! Yes, I was wearing shorts and a tank top the whole time with fans blowing in every direction. I twisted up a classic tomato with some cider and black garlic, combined a new favorite ingredient (celery root!) with an ingredient I always thought I hated until recently (fennel!), and added a step (roasting!) to a favorite of mine, butternut squash soup. Without further ado, I give you 'A Trio of Autumn Soups':

Tomato-Cider Soup w. Sage Oil // Serves 10-12

2 T butter

4 fresh sage leaves, torn

1 large onion, diced (apx. 1 1/2 c)

3 cloves black garlic*, sliced

2 medium sweet-tart apples; peeled, cored, & sliced

8 oz caramelized tomato paste**

1 T Sriracha

1/2 c dry white wine (A not-too-fruity Chardonnay works well here)

44 oz canned San Marzano tomatoes (28 oz + 16 oz cans)

1 1/2 c fresh, raw unsweetened apple cider

2 1/2 c vegetable or chicken broth

1/2 c milk or cream

Salt & pepper

Sage oil for serving

*Black garlic is a fermented/caramelized/milder version of garlic. If you cannot find it (try Trader Joe's and Asian markets!), roast your garlic before using it, or in a pinch, just use 2 cloves sliced fresh garlic. It won't have that umami of the black garlic, but it will still be great!

**To caramelize tomato paste, heat 1 1/2 T olive oil in a small frying pan, add the whole 8oz can of tomato paste and cook & stir until the oil in incorporated and the paste caramelizes into a deep red

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat, add onions and slowly sweat (covered, stirring occasionally) until onions are translucent but no browning has occurred; about 30 minutes. A few minutes before they finish, add garlic, sage, and a pinch of salt.

Add wine and cook 1-2 minutes, add apples and tomato paste and allow liquid to reduce by half.

Tomato-Cider Soup

Add tomatoes, cider, and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes. Add milk and simmer another 10. In batches, transfer soup to a Vitamix, and blend until smooth. Return to pan and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. The flavor should be slightly sweet, with a rich tomato flavor and a hint of heat. If possible, allow the flavors to meld for several hours over overnight before heating and serving. Drizzle sage oil on top for a little fancy flavor!

Sage Oil

1 c packed sage leaves

1/4 c olive oil

Blanch sage by plunging them into boiling water for 15-20 seconds, then immediately into an ice bath to stop any cooking. Drain leaves and dry well in paper towel. Give the leaves a rough chop and place in a blender or small food processor with the oil and blend at a medium speed until it's a nice consistency for drizzling. This should sit up to 24 hours to blend flavors and will keep for a week, tightly covered, in the fridge.

Celery Root & Fennel Soup

Cream of Celery Root & Fennel Soup // Serves 6

5 white peppercorns

1 small bay leaf

2 sprigs parsley

2 sprigs thyme

1 T butter

1 medium leek, light green & white parts only, halved, rinsed, & sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 c water

1 c vegetable or chicken broth

1 1/2 c peeled & 1/2" diced celery root (apx. 3/4 lb)

1 c sliced fennel bulb (1 small or 1/2 large)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp white pepper

1/4 c milk

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Creme fraiche, for serving

Create a sachet d'Epices with the first four ingredients {place them in a square of cheesecloth and tie it up!} Set aside.

Melt butter in a large pot or Dutch oven, add leeks, cooking to soften, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add water, broth, celery root, fennel, salt, pepper, and sachet.

Sachet d'Epices

Bring to boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until celery is very tender, apx. 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Remove sachet and blend remaining ingredients with an immersion blender or in batches in a Vitamix.

Return puréed soup to pot and taste for seasonings; you may add a little more broth here if it's too thick for your taste, but add it before adjusting the salt so you don't make it too salty. Bring soup to a simmer and stir in the lemon juice. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.


Roasted Winter Squash Soup // Serves 6-8

Roasted Squash:

2 lbs winter squash (I used 1 butternut and ½ an acorn)

1 tsp butter

¼ tsp nutmeg

Salt & pepper

Remaining Ingredients:

1 medium leek, light green & white parts only, halved, rinsed, & sliced (apx. 1 c)

1 T butter

4 c vegetable or chicken broth

1 tsp salt

8 fresh sage leaves, divided

1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored & sliced

¼ tsp white pepper

1 bay leaf

Olive oil for fried sage garnish

Heat oven to 425 degrees; line sheet pan with foil. Using a sharp knife, carefully split the squash in half lengthwise; scoop out and reserve seeds. Place squash cut side up on pan and rinse the seeds clean of any ‘guts’. Melt 1 tsp butter and brush over the flesh of the squash; sprinkle with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Place the seeds on a small pan, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place both pans in oven and check on the seeds at about 20 minutes, and roast the squash 50 minutes - 1 hour, until fork-tender but not mushy. Allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, stack 4 sage leaves, roll them up, then slice thinly to create little ribbons; this is called a chiffonade. Set aside and repeat with remaining sage leaves, keeping them separate. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a soup pot over medium heat; add leeks and cook 3-4 minutes to soften. Add four of the sliced sage leaves, the apple, and ¾ tsp salt. Cook until the apples soften and the leeks begin to caramelize.

Scoop the flesh of the squash directly into the soup pot (I reserved half of my acorn squash and ate it as a snack!). Add broth, pepper, and bay leaf; stir and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce to low, simmer, stirring to break up and soften squash, about 25-30 minutes. As the soup simmers, heat 2 T olive oil in a small frying pan; separate and sprinkle in remaining four sliced sage leaves and fry until crispy but not brown. Transfer to paper towel and sprinkle with salt. {Tip: Reserve oil to brush on toasts for serving!} Once the squash is soft, remove bay leaf and process soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add remaining salt if necessary. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fried sage and toasted seeds to serve.

Roasted Winter Squash Soup

Each one of these soups has it's own distinct flavor, but they play together well. I think these were fantastic served together in small bowls as a starter, but each are great for a healthy, but hearty, lunch or dinner too. Feel free to use any type of dairy you like to adjust the richness, or leave out completely if that suits your family best! It's so fun to cook seasonally and discover new vegetables; as I mentioned above, I always thought I would hate fennel because it's described as having a licorice flavor which I detest. However, I tried it roasted and I liked it, so then I sliced it thinly for a salad and I like it, so I added to the celery root soup to balance out the flavors. It just goes to show you that you never know until you try! However, I continue to try olives in different forms and I still do not care for them...so it doesn't always work!!

With a full heart and an empty plate,


Tuscan Kale Soup with Sausage and Potato

When dreaming up ways to use up an abundance of kale, I came across this recipe and decided to come up with a drastically lower fat version and see what happened - it was delicious! The flavor came out extremely similar to the Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden, which was always a favorite of mine! When it comes to substituting lower fat and calorie ingredients, experiment, but work with the knowledge you have of the flavors they will produce and what you actually want it to taste like. Some subs just don't cut it for me when cooking and baking! 

Tuscan Kale Soup with Sausage and Potato // Serves 6

1 1/2 lb small red potatoes, sliced

3 links Italian turkey sausage (from a 1 lb 5-link pack)

1 medium onion, diced

Salt and pepper

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1 tsp dried oregano

2 c fat free chicken broth

1 can fat-free evaporated milk

Low-fat milk

Splash of half & half (optional)

1 bunch Tuscan kale

Place potatoes in medium pot and add water to just cover. Bring to boil and cook just until the edges are cooked and the center is still a little firm. Drain and set aside.       ( **Time Tip // When cooking dinner the night before, or getting ready in the morning, cook your potatoes and store in fridge until you are ready to make your soup!)

Meanwhile, in a large pot, crumble the sausage and cook 1 - 2 minutes, then add onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook, breaking up the sausage, until it is browned and the onions are tender. Pour the evaporated milk into a liquid measure and add low-fat milk to make 2 cups; set aside.

Into the pot with the sausage, stir in the red pepper flakes, oregano, pepper, chicken broth, and evaporated milk mixture. Stir to combine and reduce heat; simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare kale by removing the tough ribs, washing and drying. Cut into bite size pieces and set aside; you should have about 4 cups.

Taste the soup and adjust seasonings as needed. Add the potatoes, the splash of half-and-half (if using), then stir in the kale. Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes to heat through and finish cooking the potatoes. 


Tuscan Kale & Sausage Soup

I served ours with a 'french toast' grilled cheese and they paired nicely, especially on a cold night! Of course, a salad probably would have made a nice accompaniment too, but I did save all those calories in the soup so...

Do you have a favorite 'copycat' recipe or one you want to try to recreate? It is so much fun to experiment in the kitchen, but when I am unsure of an outcome or I just want to try something new, I look for recipes or ingredients that aren't too expensive. This way, I am testing something out, but it's not a total loss if it just didn't turn out that great!

I challenge you to try something new this week - recipe or ingredient - and have fun!

With a full heart and an empty plate -





Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

Growing up, I did not eat a lot of squash. In fact, the only squash I can remember eating is zucchini. My mom may have tried to get me to eat more and I just don't remember, however, I think squash has just become more popular over the years with foodies, thus bringing it's appeal to a new level. The first time I made spaghetti squash it blew my mind. I mean, the name should have tipped me off to it's texture but I remember thinking 'Wow, it really is like spaghetti!'. My husband was not nearly as impressed. He and squash aren't super close friends, which is why I don't make it as often as I should.

For some reason though, he has bonded with acorn squash so I have been experimenting with it lately. I sliced and roasted it with maple syrup and pancetta for a Sunday supper with friends and that was a big hit, so I moved on to soup. After looking through books, magazines, and online, I was inspired and the finished product came out truly heavenly.

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup // Serves 4 - 6

1 large acorn squash

Olive oil

1 ½ - 2 tsp salt, divided

2 tsp ancho chili powder

¾ tsp smoked paprika

¾ c pecan halves

Fresh cracked pepper

4 c chicken broth

drizzle of honey 

1/2 c shredded parmigiano-reggiano

2 bay leaves

Ancho chili pepper (optional) 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, with sharp knife, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon; discard. Place the halves, cut side up, on a small baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil - a teaspoon or so on each should do. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and a few pinches of ancho powder; gently rub the oil and spices in. Roast in hot oven for 40-45 minutes, until soft enough for a fork to go through. Keep your oven on!

Roasted Acorn Squash

Sprinkle pecans on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until fragrant and toasted; 6-7 minutes - it really depends on your oven so be sure to watch them! 

Scoop out the flesh of the squash into the pitcher of a blender (I used my VitaMix and it worked beautifully!). Add in 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp ancho chili powder, 3/4 tsp smoked paprika, toasted pecans and cracked pepper.


Add chicken broth and blend until smooth. Add honey to taste; blend until desired consistency is reached. It will not be completely smooth as the pecans yield a wonderful hearty texture to this soup. Transfer soup to pot and set over medium heat. Add the parmesan and stir to incorporate; stir in bay leaves. Reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.


For a bit of flair, you can drizzle a little cream on top - use a spoon to pour it on to control the speed or else it will sink to the bottom! Sprinkle with ancho pepper (a black pepper like consistency, not as sot as the ground ancho) . I served mine with some roast chicken and vegetables; for a side-dish it makes six 3/4c servings.

Roasted Acorn Soup w. Chicken

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I did - it is amazingly smooth and creamy, without any cream! A perfect addition to any fall evening meal.

That's it for today, I so appreciate you checking in! Leaving you with a full heart and an empty plate -