South Shore Breaker
Dishing out those delicious fall soups
Hurricane Fiona laid warning of the frightful weather ahead of us. The second half of September offered an abrupt change of course from the glorious sunny days of this past summer. As our furnaces, heat pumps and radiators reawaken from their summer vacation, and work on keeping us warm as we enter autumn and winter, it’s time to put soup back on the menu.
Autumn soups, for me, are about using seasonal vegetables to deliver liquid pleasure in the form of rich creamy textures, with the added warmth of a little spice or charred, smoky elements. A teaspoon of dried chilies, a generous crack of pepper or the addition of some fragrant Indian spices can transform a classic soup into a spicy, exotic version of itself. For each recipe, I’ve included some ideas to make them spicier versions of themselves.
CREAM-LESS MUSHROOM SOUP
4 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ lb (6 to 8 cups) mixed mushrooms, cleaned, roughly chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed or 1 tsp dried
3 tbsp flour
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup milk*
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Directions: Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a large pot set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant (30 seconds). Add the mushrooms and thyme and sauté until mushrooms begin releasing liquid and are slightly browned (5 minutes). Meanwhile in another pot, set over medium heat, add remaining butter. When butter has melted add the flour. When the flour is browned, raise temperature to medium-high and whisk in the vegetable stock. When the soup begins to thicken, reduce heat to medium-low. Add the liquid to the mushroom mixture along with the milk. Simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
*Make it vegan by substituting the milk with an extra cup of stock.
** For a thicker consistency, after cooking remove half the soup and puree until smooth. Recombine the pureed portion with the non-pureed portion, warm and serve.
Make it spicy: You can add
a little heat to this sumptuous soup by adding a teaspoon, or two, of dried chillies when you add the garlic. Alternatively, for the final season be really generous with some freshly ground pepper. Mushrooms and ground pepper is wonderful combination.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH CHEESE AND BACON
4 to 6 Servings
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cubed
1 small onion, peeled quarter 3 tbsp olive oil*
3 cloves garlic (drizzle in vegetable oil, wrap in foil)
900-ml chicken or vegetable stock
Roasted garlic croutons*
1/4 cup goat’s milk cheese, crumbled
4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy, chopped (optional)
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 F. Place squash and onion on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place garlic on sheet. Place in oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Carefully remove roasted garlic and
combine with roasted squash and onions in a pot. Add stock, and enough water to cover the squash completely. Bring to a quick boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes to harmonize flavours. Remove from heat, puree, and season to taste. Serve warm garnished with roasted garlic croutons, crumbled cheese and crisp bacon.
*Rub 5 or 6 slices of toasted baguette with garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Cut into crouton-sized cubes.
Make it spicy: Turn this into a fragrant, spicy dish by incorporating some Indian spices. Toast and ground some Indian spices such as cumin, coriander and chilies. Sauté the spices, along with some finely chopped fresh ginger, with the onions and you’ve got the start of a flavourful and unique autumn inspired squash soup. Alternatively substitute the goat’s milk cheese for blue cheese to add a little piquant flavour to this classic fall soup.
SMOKY CORN CHOWDER
4 to 6 Servings
3 slices double smoked bacon, diced
2 tbsp butter
2 large carrots, scrubbed, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 lb potato, peeled, diced 6 ears corn, kernels removed 1 ½ litres vegetable or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste Fresh chives
Directions: Place a heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon and set on paper towel. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the green onions, diced carrots, and celery. Once vegetables have begun to soften, 8 to 10 minutes, top with potato, half the corn kernels, a few ears of corn and the stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. While chowder is simmering, puree remaining corn with heavy cream. Using tongs remove the ears of corn, bay leaf and discard. Add the corn and cream puree.
Make it spicy: While I’d caution against making this soup spicy, you can adapt the recipe to give it a little Southeast Asian flare. Add a little ginger when sauteing the vegetables and finish with cilantro or mint instead of the chives. A dash of fish sauce and squeeze of lime juice and suddenly you have a Thai-inspired corn chowder.
Mark Dewolf is currently the creative director of food and drink at the Saltwire Network, director of marketing and communications of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) and pastpresident of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS). He enjoys drinking, eating, writing and talking about wine, beer and food.