Hearty, Healthy Soup Recipes for Fall

Break out your soup pots for fall and try a couple healthy recipes to warm you up.By Zester Daily Staff

Fall weather inspires us to get out the soup pot and fill the kitchen with good hearty aromas.

RELATED: How about a classic chicken soup?

Here from her cookbook "The Very Best of Recipes for Health" are a pair of great soup recipes from Zester Daily's healthy cooking authority Martha Rose Shulman.

RELATED: Here's another great fall veggie soup.

Pureed Red Pepper and Potato Soup

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

There was a time, about 20 years ago, when pureed red peppers were all the rage. It was so overdone by restaurants that eventually it fell out of fashion. But there was a reason that red pepper puree was so popular, and that's because of its intense rich flavor. This beautiful orange soup is a reminder of that.

RELATED: Try a bean and vegetable soup to warm up.

Make sure to strain it after you puree it, a quick step that absolves you of the more involved process of peeling the peppers.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a drizzle for serving

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and peeled and chopped

Salt to taste

4 plump garlic cloves, green shoots removed, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 pounds (4 large) red bell peppers, seeded, membranes removed, cut in large dice

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 pound russet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and diced

2 quarts chicken stock, garlic broth or vegetable stock

A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf and a couple sprigs each of thyme and flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground pepper

For garnish (optional):

Garlic croutons (toast thin slices of baguette and rub with a cut clove of garlic)

Slivered basil leaves or chopped fresh thyme leaves

Directions

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot and add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes, and stir in the garlic and the tomato paste. Stir for a minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant and the tomato paste has darkened, and add the peppers, paprika, and another 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes, stock, and bouquet garni and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste, cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Remove the bouquet garni.

3. Using an immersion blender, or in a blender or food processor fitted with the steel blade (working in 1 1/2-cup batches and covering the blender lid or food processor with a kitchen towel to prevent the hot soup from splashing), blend the soup until smooth. Strain the soup through a medium strainer, pushing it through the strainer with a spatula or the bowl of a ladle, and return to the heat. Heat through, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Garnish with garlic croutons and slivered fresh basil or chopped thyme, and drizzle a few drops of olive oil over each serving if desired.

Advance preparation: The soup can be made a day ahead and gently reheated.

Pureed White Bean and Winter Squash Soup

Yield: Serves 6

Ever since I made my first pureed white bean soup, a Julia Child recipe in From Julia Child's Kitchen that was enriched at the end, and I do mean enriched, with a mixture of cream, butter, egg yolks, lemon juice and herbs, I've been hooked on them. But bean soups don't need cream, egg yolks or butter to taste rich. This one, more Provençal than classic French, combines white beans with winter squash, resulting in a pale orange puree with a sweet, comforting flavor.

Ingredients

1 pound white beans (such as navy beans, small white beans, or cannelini), washed, picked over and soaked for 6 hours or overnight in 2 quarts water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, green shoots removed, minced

A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a couple of sprigs each thyme and parsley, and 2 sage leaves

Salt to taste

2 leeks, white part only, well washed and chopped

1 pound winter squash, peeled, seeds and membranes removed, and diced

Freshly ground pepper to taste

For garnish:

Slivered fresh sage leaves

Garlic croutons (toast slices country bread or baguette, rub with a cut clove of garlic, and cut the toasted bread into cubes)

A light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, optional

Directions

1. Drain the soaked beans. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat and add the onion. Cook gently until tender, about 5 minutes, and add 2 of the garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir together for about 30 seconds, then add the drained beans and 2 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam. Add the bouquet garni, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat and add the leeks and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook gently, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes, and add the remaining garlic and the squash. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and the squash is coated with oil and just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir into the beans. Add salt to taste and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour, until the beans and vegetables are thoroughly tender and falling apart. Taste and adjust the salt. Remove the bouquet garni and discard.

3. Using an immersion blender or a food mill fitted with the fine or medium plate, puree the soup. Return to the pot, heat through, taste and adjust salt, and add pepper to taste. Serve, garnishing each bowl with slivered sage leaves, garlic croutons and a drizzle of olive oil if you like.

Advance preparation: You can make this up to a day or two ahead and reheat. It will thicken. Thin out with water or stock if desired.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Zester Daily contributor Martha Rose Shulman is the award-winning author of more than 25 cookbooks. Her latest is "The Very Best of Recipes for Health," published by Rodale.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Also fresh on Zester Daily:

Eating to beat cancer: Diet may prove to be a cure.

India's growing wine trade is a surprise for travelers.

Beautiful, nutritious red rice makes a comeback with organic farmers.

Which American city leads the way with hot food trends?