5 FABULOUS FALL SOUPS

Break out the blender. Each of these easy soup recipes is a delectable celebration of autumn’s colorful bounty.

Leaves are changing into brilliant colors, football is back in full swing, and hoodies and sweaters are coming out of hiding. All signs point to autumn, which, for food lovers, means one key thing: It's soup weather.

These dishes are perfect for splitting into individual portions and freezing for school lunches or easy, ready-to-go dinners. (The phrase "cook once, eat many times" is especially true for soups and stews.)

Nervous? Consider this: When it comes to soup, you really can't mess it up, and there is always room for improvisation.

BEET-APPLE SOUP

BEET-APPLE SOUP

Serves 4 to 6

This soup blends sweetness with an earthy flavor.

Ingredients
3 large beets, scrubbed, ends removed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
2 apples (such as Granny Smith or Fuji), peeled, cored and diced
4 c. water
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1) Place beets on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in 400-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender.
2) Remove beets and place under cold running water, gently pulling off skins. Chop beets into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
3) Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and apple. Cook for two minutes.
4) Add beets and water to saucepan. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until apples and beets are tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, zest and parsley.
5) Purée soup using an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche or Greek yogurt.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Serves 4

Roasting this curvy squash ahead of time brings out its sweetness and makes it a snap to prepare.

Ingredients
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds in size), halved lengthwise with seeds removed
Nonstick cooking spray
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 c. milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray and place squash halves inside with the skin facing up. Pierce each side several times with a fork.
3) Roast for about 45 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from oven, allow squash to cool slightly and slide off skin.
4) Add squash, nutmeg, cinnamon and 1½ cups of broth to the food processor. Purée until smooth.
5) Transfer purée to a large saucepan, and add milk and remaining broth until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.
6) Cover pot and cook soup over low heat until heated through, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

POTATO, LEEK AND FENNEL SOUP

POTATO, LEEK AND FENNEL SOUP

Serves 8

These three vegetables come together to make a comforting soup with wonderfully balanced flavors. The fennel gives it a bit of a licorice taste, so adjust the amount based on your preferences.

Ingredients
2 Tbsp. butter
2 c. sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 c. sliced fennel bulb, fronds reserved for garnish
4 14½ oz. cans chicken broth
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 lbs. potatoes, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1) Melt butter in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks, garlic and fennel, and sauté until leeks are translucent, about seven minutes.
2) Add broth, cayenne pepper and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer soup until potatoes are very tender and can be easily pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes.
3) Using a hand blender, purée soup in the pot. Add more liquid if desired and rewarm on low if necessary.
4) Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with reserved fennel fronds.

ROASTED RED BELL PEPPER SOUP

ROASTED RED BELL PEPPER SOUP

Serves 4

Roasting the peppers yourself will give the soup a smoky taste.

Ingredients
2½ lbs. red bell peppers
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
3 c. chicken or vegetable broth
½ c. half-and-half
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1) Place bell peppers on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil and roast in 500-degree oven for 40 minutes, flipping with tongs once halfway through.
2) Remove pan from oven, cover with aluminum foil and set aside.
3) When peppers have cooled, remove skin, seeds and stems. Slice peppers into strips.
4) Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and thyme. Sauté three minutes.
5) Add broth and peppers. Simmer uncovered until peppers are very soft, 20 minutes.
6) Purée soup using a hand blender. Add half-and-half, vinegar and cayenne pepper. Rewarm soup, thinning with additional broth, if desired.

KALE, SAUSAGE AND WHITE BEAN SOUP

KALE, SAUSAGE AND WHITE BEAN SOUP

Serves 4

Kale is a hearty, healthy cooking green that survives well past the first frost (in fact, the cooler weather helps mellow its flavor). The addition of chorizo sausage gives this one-pot soup a rich and robust flavor. Add some crusty bread for dipping and you’ve got a tasty lunch that can be ready in 15 minutes.

Ingredients
6 oz. fully cooked chorizo sausage, crumbled
3 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 14½ oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 c. coarsely chopped kale, ribs removed
1 16 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed

Directions
1) Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally.
2) Add broth and diced tomatoes; bring to a boil over high heat.
3) Stir in kale. Reduce heat and simmer until kale is tender, about five to 10 minutes.
4) Stir in beans and cook for one minute, or until soup is thoroughly heated.