Autumn Veggie Soup

by James Farmer III
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autumnsoupRoast em and stew em - that's all there is too em!

I don't know about y'all, but I roast just about everything I can. Veggies, fruit and meats all get nice and toasty and caramelized from high heat and a little salt to draw out the moisture. Roasting veggies has become my MO for getting picky eaters (y'all know who you are) to eat all kinds of veggies. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, okra, zucchini, squashes of all sorts and onions too all find their way into the oven and onto plates. Roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary and onion... Oh my my!

I love, love, love vegetable soup. But I have a few stipulations to this stew of sorts. I don't care for potatoes in my veggie soup - can't say why exactly but I don't. Potato soup though is perfectly fine!

 

I also want my vegetable soup to be seasonally apropos. Modern grocers and canning allows us to eat summer produce in winter but there's something about keeping a seasonal nod to the soup that's quite enjoyable. For me it's the squashes and Brussels sprouts that make this soup fallish!

Another veggie soup stipulation - I don't love frozen veggies to make my soup. I love that this soups freezes but that's a whole other lesson in chemistry in frozen fresh and frozen cooked food. Canned, fresh or "put up" from summer are just fine. In a pinch, the frozen kind will work.

A big ol Dutch oven or big soup pot and a couple roasting pans is all you'll need for cooking - love a one pot, one pan meal!

For my Autumn Veggie Soup, I use a mélange of roasted veggies and a base of onion browned with pancetta or country ham. "Brown the onion first." Mimi and Mama taught me that. Can't go wrong with browned onions as a start to any supper!

As for the stock, a mix of chicken stock and tomato juice is the key. A third to two thirds respectively is good. More or less depending on how "soupy" you want your soup.

Slice and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper and then roast some broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, autumnal squashes of your liking and even a pepper or two until browned and nearly crisp. They'll reconstitute in the soup!

To the browned onion and ham, throw in some celery too, for I truly believe that celery is unmerited for its cooked flavor. Add canned, crushed, stewed and/or freshly chopped tomatoes to cook down with the browned onions and allow their acidity to deglaze the pan.

Season liberally as you add ingredients, simmer and serve! My family loves Pepper Jack cheese on just about anything and this soup is no exception.

I think that pancetta and Brussels sprouts were made for one another - they're romance of finding one another in the soup pot is truly and story for the ages.

Plus, y'all, this soup can feed pharaoh's army and "freezes beautifully" (Steel Magnolias... Need I say more?). Whip up a batch of cornbread or make quesadillas or grilled cheese (same thing almost right?) or simply serve on its own. This soup gets better as is sits, so enjoy again the next night.

Take some flavors of the season and a traditional soup too and you've a feast! I hope y'all are enjoying fall - it's flavors, temperatures and scenery!

James T. Farmer III was born and raised in Georgia, where he continues to live and work as a landscape designer. He shares his love of food, flowers and photography on his blog All Things Farmer.  

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