This is the first week that I have felt the fall season upon me. The weather is cooler, leaves are changing, pumpkins are appearing outside the neighborhood, and I can finally convince myself to buy that Halloween candy.
With the change in season also comes a slight change in my cooking style. My family knows that our fall menu means more soup. Yes, soup. After reading my three big reasons for this, I think you’ll agree; Soups On!
Soups pile on the veggies!
While most soups begin with a stock or broth, you will be hard pressed to think of any soup that does not contain a heaping amount of vegetables. I often struggle getting my daughter (and my husband) to eat enough veggies throughout the week, yet I know that if she eats her full bowl of soup, I can hide all the extra veggies in there. One and done!
Vegetables can add vitamins and flavor with out adding many calories either. So I can stick to my calorie count for the day, but actually be full and satisfied. My fitness pal app appreciates that too. Soup just makes sense for everyone’s diet.
Soups can be cheap!
Speaking of vegetables, going meatless at least one night a week can save big bucks on the grocery budget. While all grocery department prices seem to be on the rise, meat is still one of your most expensive components of any meal.
In fact, we have the Great Depression to thank for the rise of soups in the American diet. Using leftover or canned vegetables, or stretching meat by dicing or shredding was a commonplace technique for many home cooks. Soup allowed a family to stretch the ingredients of a meal from 2 to 4 people, and so on.
Don’t believe me? Try looking up First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s infamous ‘rain-water soup’ sometime – actually served at the White House. Although armed with a good cookbook or magazine, your soups can pack more flavor punch then those from the Depression era soup kitchens.
So it’s true that cutting meat altogether, such as in vegetable beef BROTH with barley, or using only half your usual chicken breasts, such as in chicken noodle soup, will lighten you in dollars as well as calories. (Bonus adulting points if you plan ahead by using the bones or drippings from cooking one night as your soup’s stock base for another night.)
Many of you may be worried that a bowl of soup won’t fill up a family with bottomless pit teenagers. For them I suggest adding a crusty bread loaf or toast with butter. If you really feel ambitious, go for a grilled cheese. Still meatless, but keeps your stomach and wallet happy.
Soup just feels fall!
Soup is as integral to the fall season as apple picking on the bucket list. It’s as cozy as that over-sized cable knit sweater you’ve had for years. It’s as traditional as pumpkin pie. That’s why my husband knows some of Thanksgiving’s turkey leftover is going into my favorite noodle soup mix the next day.
Lastly, it’s versatile. I can change my soup recipe as often as I change my scarf. My favorites include: loaded baked potato (see recipe below), Cajun bean and sausage (see recipe below), broccoli and cheddar, chicken and rice, turkey noodle, minestrone, she crab soup, cheeseburger, and french onion.
Let’s fudge the rules a bit while we’re at it and add chili to the list. Game day with a cup of chili loaded on toppings like crispy onions, cheese, and oyster crackers? Yes, please. The possibilities are endless. Happy fall ya’ll!
Valerie’s Loaded Baked Potato Soup
makes about 6 bowls, 30-40 minutes total
- Boil 5 to 6 cups of peeled and cubed (bite-size) baking potatoes for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain and set aside.
- In same stock pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter on medium-low heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons of flour to melted butter and stir. Should begin to look like a stiff play-doh. (This is actually a quick version of a rue.)
- Slowly stir in 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, then 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sour cream.
- Once thoroughly combined and creamy-looking, add 4 to 5 cups stock or broth. (I prefer chicken stock, but I have used vegetable broth with similar results.)
- Whip 1/4 to 1/2 of your potatoes into mash and stir to combine with soup. (I use an immersion blender in soup for this, but any version will work.)
- Add remaining cooked cubed potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. (Hint: I use what feels like a lot of salt because I use low sodium stock or broth.)
When serving, try making a toppings bar for the family to fix it themselves. My five year old thinks this is so cool. Plus, I get to empty some items from the pantry or fridge.
Remember, crunch is good when you’re talking about soup. Here’s some ideas for your toppings: shredded cheese, crumbed crisp bacon, chives or green onions, French’s fried onions, Goldfish or Cheeze-it crackers, fried cauliflower with old bay seasoning, bell peppers, diced ham. You can use your imagination here.
My 3 Ingredient “Shortcut” to Cajun Bean and Sausage Soup
makes about 6 bowls, only 15 minutes active, 90 minutes total
- Wash beans from package thoroughly and drain. (Be sure to pick out the garbanzo beans if your husband loathes them as much as mine.)
- Over medium-high, boil 10 cups of water with beans for 60 minutes. Stir occasionally. You may also need to skim the top for bean husks. Don’t worry if the liquid looks slightly gray so far. Add more water while cooking if soup looks too condensed.
- After 60 minutes lower the heat to simmer.
- Add your favorite chunky salsa – your preference will help control the spice heat a great deal. (Hint: This is a great time to sneak in any extra veggies you want your family to consume without knowing how sneaky you are.)
- Slice Cajun style sausage and add to soup base.
- Lastly, add the Cajun seasoning packet from mix.
- Simmer and stir occasionally for 20 minutes to let flavors meld. (Tip: I have made this the night before and thrown in my crock pot bowl to store in the fridge. Put it on “keep warm” or “low” setting for about 20 minutes, and you will have soup to serve without the work that night.)