Greet fall with soups, chili and stews

North Penn Life - - Opinion -

As we move into the mid­dle of Oc­to­ber, many peo­ple find them­selves dread­ing the cooler weather but look­ing for­ward to those an­nual hol­i­day fes­tiv­i­ties.

For me, I find my­self sa­vor­ing the fla­vors of fall and sud­denly adding cin­na­mon, pump­kin and gin­ger to any­thing I can.

Fall is my fa­vorite sea­son and, in my opin­ion, much too short be­tween the ex­tremes of sum­mer and win­ter. While sum­mer and win­ter both have their own fla­vors that I en­joy, fall brings the ones I’ve been crav­ing since last year.

It’s not just fla­vors though. It’s tex­tures and scents too. There’s noth­ing bet­ter than walk­ing in the door af­ter be­ing out in the brisk fall air and smelling home­made soups and stews. And while sum­mer has it’s pescatar­ian and veg­e­tar­ian ver­sions of ham­burg­ers and hot dogs, I find the com­ing of fall to be a re­lief.

I no longer have to strug­gle to change up my menu with new en­trees. There’s al­ways a new soup, chili or stew to try.

Since be­com­ing a pescatar­ian, my views on these types of items have changed dras­ti­cally. Dur­ing my teenage years, you couldn’t pay me enough to eat soups or stews. I might have dab­bled in chili, but they just didn’t seem sat­is­fy­ing. Now, I can’t get enough of home­made soups.

While I’m an ad­vo­cate for soups dur­ing the chilly weather, canned soups al­ways con­cern me. While not only be­ing heav­ily salted and made with more preser­va­tives than I could pos­si­bly name, many com­pa­nies use meat stocks and gravies. And while not all do, I al­ways con­sult the in­gre­di­ents list on the back of the can in case.

Soups, chili and stews are easy to make and in­cred­i­bly de­li­cious though, so I find no need to even con­sider canned ones. Ad­di­tion­ally, I can con­trol what’s in them. So if I like my tomato soup on the thicker side or my chili a lit­tle spicier I can make sure it’s to my lik­ing.

Home­made soups also give you a great op­por­tu­nity to add more pro­teins and veg­eta­bles than you would find in a can.

While a canned veg­e­tar­ian soup may have very few black beans, I can load mine up with it. Or I can ex­per­i­ment with add- ing some soy prod­ucts like tofu or edamame, which are a form of soy beans. It’s all up to my imag­i­na­tion and pref­er­ences.

Soups, chili and stew can lit­er­ally take a half- hour to make too. While some are in­tri­cate and seem to take for­ever, some sim­ple yet sa­vory ones take only as long as the time to chop up the in­gre­di­ents and throw them into a pot.

Ad­di­tion­ally, since I am the only per­son in my fam­ily with a veg­gie based diet, soups, chili and stews pleases ev­ery mem­ber of my house­hold with only one meal prepa­ra­tion. If it’s a good soup, no one even misses the meat prod­uct.

Now, soups, stews and chili aren’t the only thing mak­ing my fall menu. Pump­kin pie, pump­kin chai tea, pump­kin tem­pura and, well, just about any other pump­kin prod­uct is there too. Each year I look for­ward to find­ing any­thing I could want in a pump­kin fla­vor.

And now we come to an­other recipe. What’s it go­ing to be? Well, I love a nice hearty bowl of chili, so here’s my two bean chili, which can eas­ily be changed to a three, four or more bean chili, just be sure to add more liq­uid. Two-bean chili In­gre­di­ents: One can of black beans, rinsed and drained

One can of red kid­ney beans, rinsed and drained

One can of crushed to­ma­toes with basil

One medium green or red pep­per One jalapeno Two cloves gar­lic One cook­ing onion

In a large pot heat over medium-high, heat one to two ta­ble­spoons of olive oil. Add gar­lic and sauté un­til the gar­lic starts to brown. This should take one to two min­utes. Add onion and continue to sauté un­til the onion soft­ens, an­other one to two min­utes. Add pep­pers, sauté un­til pep­pers soften and onion be­comes a translu­cent color. Pour the can of crushed to­ma­toes into the pot, mak­ing sure to stand back in case of splat­ter. Mix to­gether and add rinsed and drained beans. Sea­son the chili to taste with black pep­per, gar­lic pow­der, cumin, chili pow­der and hot sauce. Serve with rice, noo­dles or eat on its own.

Food for Thought Caitlin Burns

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