First place contest winner: Hearty, filling vegetable packed soup with white beans (+ optional chicken) to keep you warm.
Hopes fulfilled. Dreams realized.
A time to celebrate and share a bounty with family, friends, and neighbors, that was hard-earned.
A time to cook, and for canning what you want to preserve for the winter ahead.
Our harvest can be from our orchards, vegetable patches, or vineyards. But it can also be the lessons we learn in life as we contemplate our actions and reactions. We reap as we sow, harvesting in our later years the seeds we plant and nurture in our youth and middle age. This is true whether we’re talking about health, relationships, or the work we pursue. In all the busyness (and business) of life, what are you investing your time and energy in? What are you nurturing? What are you harvesting?
As we transition fully into fall and leave the sizzling summer heat behind, this soup celebrates the farmhouse harvest by combining late season tomatoes with glorious autumnal butternut squash, carrots, and greens. The acidity of the tomatoes brightens the soup; so if you don’t see any at your market, get some good canned ones to throw in.
There’s spice in the soup with the Serrano pepper and harissa, but it’s not a spicy soup. The spice just sharpens the flavors a bit; so don’t shy away from these ingredients. If you don’t have any harissa, just throw in additional minced Serrano and red chili peppers to taste.
This is a hearty vegetable packed soup with white beans and chicken that will keep you warm; filling enough to be served for either dinner or a satisfying lunch along with a hunk of bread slathered with butter as you relax by the fire and contemplate your personal harvest.
Farmhouse Harvest Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large leek, sliced (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 1 onion, finely chopped (1 ½ cups)
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 2 cups chopped celery (3 – 4 stalks)
- 2 cups chopped butternut squash
- 1 Serrano pepper, minced (1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt (Kosher)
- 10 twists of freshly ground pepper
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 2 chunks of the rind of Parmesan cheese
- 3 cups cooked white beans
- 1 1/2 cups roasted chicken
- 5 tablespoons harissa
- 1 bunch spinach, stemmed
- 4 large tomatoes, a mix of red and yellow
In a large soup pot over medium heat, sauté the leek, onion, carrot, celery, squash, and pepper in the olive oil until the squash begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir the vegetables fairly often, but allow a nice fond to develop on the bottom of the pan. The term fond is typically applied to browning meat in a pan, but I’m referring here to the brown residue from the vegetables that is deposited on the bottom of the pan. This is a fantastic building block of flavor to anything, and is a key component to developing a rich vegetable flavor in this soup.
Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper. Sauté another 5 minutes until fragrant.
Add the vegetable broth and Parmesan cheese rind. This is a wonderful use for the rind, as it adds just a hint of a cheese flavor. Simmer for 10 minutes to concentrate the flavors a bit.
Add the beans, cooked chicken, and harissa. I just buy one half of a pre-roasted chicken at the market for this, and shred the meat of one breast. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Roast the tomatoes at 425 degrees F and remove the peel. Coarsely chop and add to the soup along with the spinach leaves. Alternatively, the tomatoes can be dropped into boiling water for 10 seconds and then peeled.
Using an immersible blender, whirl the soup for about 15 seconds to puree a little of the soup. Alternatively, remove 2 cups of the soup from the pot, throw it in a blender, and stir it back into the soup.
Serve hot with a shaving of parmesan cheese on top, along with a hunk of bread slathered with butter.