Fall is a fickle season, jackets are needed one day, and shorts are fine the next. It’s too toasty for lentils, but too cool for gazpacho. So we’re celebrating the season with some sublime fall soups, potages that showcase autumn’s harvest and work equally well no matter what the temperature.
And we’re dipping into several of the hottest cookbooks for inspiration.
Food maven and frequent Bon Appetit magazine writer Betty Rosbottom believes there’s a soup for every season, but she came to that realization only later in life.
“The soups of my youth,” she writes, “came from a can.”
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That’s all changed now. Rosbottom’s latest book “Sunday Soup: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering, Easy-to-Make Recipes” (Chronicle Books, $19.95, 168 pages) contains 60 such creations, from a richly robust, roasted tomato with homemade garlic croutons — we guarantee, you’ll never use store-bought croutons again — to a velvety carrot soup spiked with cumin and fresh lime that works beautifully hot or cold.
Deborah Madison, the co-founder of San Francisco’s Greens restaurant and a best-selling cookbook author, gives vegetarians plenty to savor in “Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen” (Broadway Books, $19.95, 230 pages). During transitional seasons like fall, she suggests giving classic split pea soup a lighter, more refreshing take by adding fresh peas, rosemary and fresh lemons. (A drizzle of a nice balsamic vinegar, instead of the lemon, is a flavorful alternative.)
One doesn’t normally associate butternut squash with Mexican cuisine, says Marcela Valladolid in her new book “Fresh Mexico: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor” (Clarkson Potter, $22.50, 240 pages). But the vivid golden squash appears in many authentic south-of-the-border dishes, and the seeds are often used in sauces. Here, she blends the rich autumnal squash with the smoky hot flavors of chipotle chiles and adobo sauce. (A word of caution: That spicy flavor blooms over time, so if you make the soup ahead of time, use a light hand on the chiles.)
And this being the year of all-things Julia Child — the movie “Julie & Julia” topped the $90 million mark last week, and her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” has spent more than two months atop Amazon’s bestsellers list — we’re giving a nod to the woman who discovered her, editor Judith Jones. Jones’ new cookbook, “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” (Alfred A. Knopf 2009, $27.95, 273 pages) includes a Potage Parmentier homage to Child.
This creamy leek and potato soup is such a favorite, Jones notes in her book, “I usually plant a couple of rows of leeks in my garden so I can indulge myself at a moment’s notice.”
CARROT SOUP WITH CUMIN AND LIME
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups chopped leeks
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 1/2 cups chicken stock
8 tablespoons sour cream, divided
2 tablespoons lime juice
Kosher salt, pepper
Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot and leeks and saute until leeks begin to soften, 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add cumin and red pepper flakes and saute 30 seconds. Add stock. Bring to a boil, simmer uncovered, 35 minutes. Puree the soup in batches and return soup to the pot. Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lime juice stirred into each bowl. Or cool soup, whisk in 6 tablespoons of sour cream and refrigerate for three hours or overnight. When ready to serve, stir in lime juice, season to taste and serve.