The temperatures are still mild in most parts of the U.S., but cooler weather will be here before we know it — and for many, before we want it! On a positive note, cool temperatures also bring hearty pots of soups and stews, many featuring flavors from autumn vegetables like butternut squash, leeks and cabbage. When traveling though Ireland in autumn, you know a good bowl of soup is always on the itinerary, so keep these recipes handy when temperatures fall and thoughts turn to home!
An autumnal scene in Dublin on the Grand Canal.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND APPLE SOUP
SERVES 8 to 10
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 leek (white part only), chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves
4 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 cup apple cider
Ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Croutons, for garnish
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add squash, leeks, carrot, and celery and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until vegetables are soft but not browned. Stir in apples, thyme, and sage.
2. Add stock and cider and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until vegetables are tender. Let cool.
3. Working in batches, transfer soup to a food processor or blender (or use an immersion blender) and process until smooth. (May be prepared to this point 1 day ahead). Return soup to pan and season with salt and pepper. Bring soup to simmer and stir in cream.
4. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with chives and croutons.
POTATO, LEEK, CABBAGE SOUP
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large leek (white part only), chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
Bouquet garni (fresh parsley, thyme, bay leaf tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound small red potatoes, thinly sliced
6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
4 cups finely shredded cabbage
Croutons, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, for garnish
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, for garnish
1. In a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat, heat oil. Add bacon and cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until crisp. Add onion, celery, carrots, and leek and cook, stirring frequently, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Add wine, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until nearly evaporated.
2. Add bouquet garni, potatoes, and stock, bring to boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cabbage, season with pepper, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cabbage is tender; remove and discard bouquet garni.
3. To serve, ladle soup into deep bowls and sprinkle with croutons, chives, and parsley.
CAULIFLOWER AND BLUE CHEESE SOUP
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large potato, diced
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 cup plus 2 tablepoonsmilk
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 ounces crumbled Cashel Blue cheese, plus additional for garnish
1/2 cup half and half
Ground black pepper
Croutons, for garnish (optional)
1. In a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in onion, potato, and cauliflower. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until onion and potato are soft but not browned. Add broth and 1 cup milk. Reduce heat to simmer; cook, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender. Remove from heat; let cool for 5 minutes.
2. Working in batches, transfer soup to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. (Or, purée in pot with an immersion blender.) Return mixture to a clean saucepan; bring to a simmer. Whisk together cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons milk in a small bowl until cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk into soup; simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, or until soup is thickened.
3. Add Cashel Blue, half and half, and pepper; cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until cheese is melted and soup is smooth.
4. To serve, ladle soup into 4 bowls; sprinkle with additional crumbled cheese and croutons, if using.
Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed cookbook, visit www.irishcook.com