Autumn arrived has arrived here with a bang. More like a splash, actually. Lots of rain and cool weather and suddenly summer is a distant memory. Sandals and shorts? I had them on just a few days ago, but now, sitting here typing on a cool, rainy day, I can't imagine it.
Fall brings its own rewards, though. Crisp days and cool nights. Vibrant red, orange, and yellow leaves against bright blue skies. Paths littered with acorns. The sound of leaves underfoot. And the flavors: crisp apples, warm soups, sweet pies. Suddenly fall feels great.
We ushered in fall this past weekend camping with friends. Last year we had planned a trip with the same friends, but ended up canceling at the last minute when the torrential rains did not ease up. (All was not lost, though, because we did make some excellent pumpkin cupcakes). This year, we got a great weekend. The days were sunny and cool, and the nights downright chilly, perfect for sitting around a campfire and roasting marshmallows. With good company for the adults and children alike, it was worth the year-long wait.
Veggies prepped and ready for the pot; Chloe pulling the leaves off the thyme stems.
I now have a renewed desire to get out there into the woods more often. Just seeing all the stars in the dark sky, far removed from the city lights, is reason enough to make the trek. And there is something about having to work a bit harder to stay warm, prepare a meal, clean the dishes that makes it seem simpler yet more worthwhile.
Simmering the stock.
I made this soup before we left for the weekend and warmed it over our friends' camp stove, which I think heated it twice as fast as it would have heated on my stovetop at home. This soup uses the best of those vegetables that are abundant at this time of the changing of the seasons -- potatoes, carrots, green beans, even late summer corn if you can find it. The result is a comforting soup that was perfect for a crisp night under a clear sky. It would be delicious on a rainy one too, for that matter.
Second Helping: Chunky Apple Muffins
Corn and Green Bean Chowder
For this soup, I used those skinny green beans, often labeled French Green Beans or Haricots Verts. Regular green beans would do nicely, too, although they need a few extra minutes of cooking time.
20 minutes preparation time
50 minutes cooking time
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 small celery rib, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
3 cups milk
3 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
corn cut off of 3 ears of corn (or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn)
2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and thyme and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, 6-7 minutes. Add the bay leaf, stock, milk, salt and pepper, and bring the soup to a simmer. Reduce the heat to very low so that the milk does not scald, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Add potatoes and corn, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. With an immersion blender or a potato masher, mash some of the potatoes into the broth to thicken it (this took about 5 seconds with my immersion blender).
Add the green beans and simmer until they are tender, about 5 minutes for French green beans, or a few minutes more for regular green beans. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve hot. Campfire optional.
Jobs for children: Smaller children can peel carrots and potatoes, pull the thyme leaves off the stems, snap the ends off the beans, measure milk and stock, grind pepper. Older children can chop vegetables.