"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers," -Anne of Green Gables
Do you love fall as much as I do? I look forward to fall all year long. There is something about the way the character of the natural light changes, the cooler weather, the beautiful colors of fall foliage, the earthy smell that just makes me happier than any other time of the year. Although I am not crazy about the dark mornings fall brings, the dark evenings make me happy to have candle-light once again which adds a certain coziness to out home. It just says welcome. And it's apple season! To a girl raised in Upstate New York where there are orchards galore, this is indeed cause for celebration. I can't wait for the local apples to appear at the farmer's market because as good as some apples are year round, ones fresh-picked have a certain quality to them that trumps all others- extra crunchy and juicy and many more varieties to choose from than I typically can find at a local supermarket. Best of all? No icky waxy finish!
Fall makes me want to nest more, too. I am eager to cook stews and mostly, soups galore. I make really big batches of Bolognese and marinara sauces along with turkey chili to have on hand in the freezer for cozy cold weather meals. Now really is the most bountiful time of the year at farmer's markets, too.. There are still plenty of tomatoes and warm weather produce and the winter squash are now in. The smell of roasted chiles is always inviting at our markets, and I stock up for my freezer and then use them all year long.
Recently I was smitten with some butternut squash, yellow cherry tomatoes and beautiful yellow bell peppers at my local farm stand and came up with a gorgeous soup we will happily eat all season long. Here's the recipe if you care to try it . It can be made with red tomatoes and bell peppers too, and even mushrooms, but let's just say the color won't be as appetizing!
Golden Harvest Soup
1 medium butternut squash, halved and seeded (Carefully!)
1 large yellow bell pepper, halved, seeded and cut into chunks
1 medium onion, skinned and sliced into wedges
1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes (or 1/2 pint approx)
1 1/2 cups baby carrots, or carrot chunks
4- 4 0unce links, sweet italian sausages with fennel
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock, plus additional for thinning soup, if desired
kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Brush baking sheet with olive oil. Place butternut squash, cut side down on baking sheet. Place prepared yellow bell pepper, onion, tomatoes and carrots on same baking sheet.
Drizzle everything generously with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss gently to coat. Scatter fresh thyme sprigs on top.
Place tray in oven on middle rack and roast for 30-40 minutes until tender and slightly caramelized. Remove from oven and let cool until squash is cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup or stock pot over medium heat. Once oil is hot but not smoking squeeze little balls of sausage out of the casing into the oil. Saute all the sausage in the oil until evenly browned. With slotted spoon remove sausage to paper towels to drain.
In remaining oil in pot, saute garlic gently until soft and translucent, being careful not to burn. Add in all the vegetables from tray, scooping out all the soft squash flesh with a spoon, being careful not to get any skin. Crumble thyme leaves into pot, discarding stems.
Stir vegetables continuously while adding in wine. Cook, stirring until wine is evaporated. Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper , poultry seasoning and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally , for 20 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, puree soup right in the pot until as chunky or as smooth as you would like. Add in more broth, as desired.
Stir in browned sausage. Simmer soup for another 20-30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust to suit your taste.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with a few fresh thyme leaves for garnish. Serves 4-6. Doubles easily. Freezes beautifully!
Variation: For vegetarian version, omit sausage and substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock.