Friday, November 4

Simple Summer Harvest Soup (The Autumn Version)

The wonderful thing about most delicious soup recipes is that you can use them as a jumping off point to create yet more delicious soups. Simply take the basic idea and go about making it your own, tinkering and improvising to suit your taste--and the ingredients you have on hand. It is difficult to make a lousy soup--and a snap to create a delectable new favorite.

Back in September I wrote about a recipe that I created several years ago to celebrate (and help use up) the late summer harvest of sweet red peppers, summer squash, and onions in the garden (or at the farmer's maket, as your case may be). It was called Simple Summer Harvest Soup, and as soon as I posted it, readers began offering all sorts of interesting ideas and variations. I myself admitted that this was the first time I had swirled a spoonful of fresh basil pesto into a bowl of it. (Was it a hit? Well, I ate the entire rest of the pot with pesto mixed into it, if that's any indication. And no, I haven't forgotten that I promised I would post my personal pesto recipe, and I apologize for the delay. Knowing how my own version of "farmgirl time" works, I am figuring it should be up by the time Clare and her fellow Southern Hemisphere foodies are harvesting the first basil from their gardens.) Click here to read the original Simple Summer Harvest Soup post.

Cookiecrumb suggested adding some spices to give it an exotic Moroccan flavor, and the idea of charring and peeling the sweet red peppers was offered up more than once. A couple people wondered how a vegetarian version would taste, and a few days later, Emily came back with this news:

"This soup is wonderful! I made it last night using Imagine brand vegetable stock, and just finished devouring some for lunch. It was a bowl of sunshine on an otherwise dreary day in the ol' cubicle."

Alanna at the amazing A Veggie Venture wrote about this version she created a few weeks ago after being unable to resist 25-cent sweet red peppers at the farmer's market. Her intriguing recipe includes zucchini and adobo and was declared "a winner!"

Then two days ago, she wrote a fabulous post all about homemade light vegetable stock which includes a yummy sounding recipe that makes 22 cups as well as several helpful hints. If you've ever thought about making your own vegetable stock, click here to give this one a try (and please let me--and Alanna--know how it came out). I hope to make a batch of it soon myself.

In the meantime, last week things went full circle, and I ended up making a desperation variation of my beloved Summer Harvest Soup. I still find it hard to believe, but for the first time in about ten years (and after much determined arctic digging) I was forced to declare that my enormous chest freezers were absolutely chicken stockless. Once I got over the initial shock, I immediately set about making things right, but I only ended up with 6 cups of chicken stock. This was plenty for one recipe, but not for the double recipe I was hoping to make in order to use up all of the onions and lemon squash and red peppers glaring at me from every flat surface in the kitchen.

Vegetables on the brink of becoming overripe can scare a cook into trying almost anything, and so I went ahead and made a double batch, but with only 6 cups of chicken stock. It was absolutely fabulous. Thicker than the summer version, of course, but not at all sludgy or heavy. Thick in a perfect autumn appetite kind of way. A warm bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of garden chives made a lovely light lunch. Paired with a crunchy, melty grilled cheese sandwich made with Oatmeal Toasting Bread (bread recipe to be posted someday, I promise), it was a scrumptious cool weather supper. Here, then, is my amended recipe.

Farmgirl's Simple Summer Harvest Soup--The Autumn Version

4 to 6 Tablespoons good olive oil
4 Large yellow or white onions (at least 2 pounds), chopped
6 to 8 Sweet red peppers, bell or other shaped (at least 2 pounds), seeded & chopped
6 to 8 Yellow summer squash, such as crookneck or lemon (at least 2 pounds), cut into quartered slices
6 cups (48 ounces) Homemade chicken stock (or high quality storebought)

Optional garnishes:
Chopped chives, sour cream, cottage cheese, pesto, chopped tomatoes, croutons, or whatever your heart desires

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the chopped onions, peppers, and squash. Let cook for at least 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure to cover the vegetables with the oil.* Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with the lid cracked, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft, about 20 to 30 minutes. Using a blender or stick blender, carefully puree the soup to desired consistency.

I honestly do not know how I survived so long without my KitchenAid Immersion Hand Blender. It is amazing (and so easy to clean). It turned this

Into this

in less than ten seconds. And that was on medium speed. This might very well have been the best $50.00 I ever spent in the kitchen.

Salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot, garnished as desired. Makes over 3 quarts. This soup tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge. It also freezes well.

*Note: You can skip this step, and your soup will still taste wonderful. Just toss all the ingredients into the pot (without the olive oil), bring to a boil, and follow the rest of the instructions.

It is definitely open season on soups, and I look forward to sharing two of my cold weather favorites with you in the coming weeks: Garlic Lover's White Bean Soup and Hearty Lentil Soup With Smoked Sausage (don't knock lentil soups until you've tried this one). Both were big hits when I made them for a cooking class I taught called Cozy Breads & Soups.

As always, your comments, suggestions, questions, soup success stories (and tales of failures), are welcome. And since we know we won't survive the coming months without it, let's all give three hearty cheers for soup!

© Copyright 2005, the tummy warming foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.


  1. Yum...send some my way!

  2. Love it!! Will head to farmer's market immediately!

  3. Totally Inappropriate! ;D
    With seasonally appropriate amendments. (It's 9 a.m., and you've got my tummy growling.)
    Egad, your immersion blender works way better than my Braun.

  4. I love those kind of soups - so easy but so warming. Please do post the bread recipe sometime! It looks wonderful.

  5. Wow, that does look delicious. I"m a huge fan of squash soups for the fall. Love that bright orange color too!

  6. I came for a visit -- and greeted to the very reason that this has become a favorite blog!! That soup looks positively delish! (minus, of course, any hints of dairy -- since its a taboo for me)

    Still have to make that pita bread...

    As soon as the MUNCHMOUSE is down for a nap then I will get everything out for pitas. Kids are looking forward to the ones that don't puff.. while they bake I will make an avacado butter to spread on them.

  7. Just wanted to say that I just found your blog yesterday and I've read nearly the entire archive. I'm still just dreaming about the rural life, and your beautiful photos are definitely daydream-inspiring.

    And the soup looks good, too.

  8. I just posted about my soup, then came here and saw a striking resemblance. They are made of different veg, but are an identical (and lovely , I might add) color. And they are of the same school of soup, I think.
    So good and easy, no wonder ever one loves them.
    Don't tell Lindy the C about the, uh, stock.

  9. Thanks for the plug. Hope I can live up to it! I'm really trying to get my food/simplicity focus back.

    Your soup looks delicious!

    I was just thinking this morning that I really can't live another minute without an immersion blender. I did, but I just can't live another day without an immersion blender.

  10. I can't wait to get my hands on that hearty lentil soup recipe!!!!

  11. Hi Susan: I've been making pumpkin soup almost daily, then I saw some lovely, slender leeks at the market and used them instead of onions. Yum! If you grow leeks, try 'em!

  12. Hi Socalfoodie,
    : )

    Hi Lacy,
    Great to hear I inspired you to make some of this soup. : )

    Hi Cookiecrumb,
    I absolutely LOVE my KitchenAid immersion blender. It is incredible. It looks wimpy, but it is anything but. I cannot recommend it enough.

    Hi Luisa,
    Welcome to the farm! I hope to have the Oatmeal Toasting Bread post up in the next few days. : )

    Hi Mona,
    So do you have any favorite squash soup recipes to share? : )

    Hi Heather,
    The soup tastes just fine without the dollop of sour cream. : )

    Hi Schatzli,
    I can't believe I put off buying a hand blender for so long. I wouldn't give it up for anything now.

    Mushroom hunting? I'm so envious!

    Hi Pyewacket,
    Welcome to the farm! This is definitely the place to come if you like to daydream about country life. All the fun and none of the work! : ) Yikes. You've read nearly all the archives already? Guess I'd better get busy writing some new posts.

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks. Isn't it nice that it's finally cool enough to actually have a real appetite again? (Although I think it was at least 85 degrees today for some odd reason. It just feels wrong.) I don't know which I love more--autumn or soup (or oatmeal bread!). : )

    Hi Lindy,
    Mmmmmm. Your Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup looks and sounds delish--as does the Maytag Cauliflower Soup With Pear you wrote about today. (And there are a couple of yummy posts inbetween the two as well.) I'm starting to feel like a kitchen slug. : )

    P.S. Don't worry, I only talk about veggie stock around the chickens. : )

    Hi Laurie,
    You are planning to make soup single every week for the next five months. You NEED an immersion blender. Get the KitchenAid. : )

    Hi Raquel,
    Welcome to the farm! Thanks for taking the time to write--and for letting me know you're looking forward to my hearty lentil soup recipe--inspiration to get the post written! (Plus I get to make a batch of the soup.) : )

    Hi Kat,
    Oooh, more inspiration to get cooking and typing!

    Hi David,
    Do you know, I don't think I have ever cooked anything with leeks? Yes, it's very sad. I tried to grow them from seed several years in a row and had no luck. I was so looking forward to finally getting over my inexplicable fear of leeks. And of course there really isn't anywhere to buy them around here. Maybe I'll order some leek seeds this year and try again. I know I'm missing out. Thanks for the reminder.

    Hi Alisha,
    I, too, love the color of this soup. It's so striking. And it practically screams 'healthy!'--but in a good way. : )

    Hi Amy,
    Once there is an immersion blender in your kitchen, you won't know how you ever got along without it. It will make your entire life easier. Well, maybe not your entire life--but most of it. I know I sound like a broken record (or a rep for the company), but definitely go for the KitchenAid.


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love hearing about your experiences with my recipes. Comments on older posts are always welcome!

Please note that I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be a while before yours appears.

I try my best to answer all questions, though sometimes it takes me a few days. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your e-visits to our farm!