I love autumn. No matter how long or satisfying the summer, the autumn always seems to surprise me when it comes, but I never resent its approach. The air is clean, the trees are aflame, I begin my two-season chant of gratitude for central heat, and all is right with the world…
… provided you have a good, hearty pot of soup on the stove. I love soups year-round, but sometimes I dislike making them. They’re easy, and kind of fool-proof, but usually I’m hungry after a couple bowls of even the nicest soup, and I’m bothered that I need to cook more to satisfy myself at just one meal.
However. I have a fall soup that I turn to again and again that is truly hearty and filling and after which you will not be rummaging around in the cupboard for something more. Some people like it alone, but I always want good bread or biscuits alongside. This is a vegetarian (vegan) soup, but almost everyone likes it, even though they might not particularly like the vegetables that go into it. I suppose that is the alchemy of a good soup.
Adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook, I bring to you a recipe for Gypsy Soup. The ingredients list looks long, but 8 of the items are spices. It makes 4 servings.
3-4 Tbs olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 cups chopped peeled sweet potatoes (or winter squash, but I always use sweet potatoes)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped, fresh tomatoes
3/4 chopped sweet peppers
1 1/2 cups cooked chic peas
3 cups stock or water
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
dash of cinnamon
dash of cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp tamari (or soya sauce – but I use much less or none – see below)
Find a big pot and heat the olive oil. Saute onions, garlic, celery, and sweet potatoes for 5 minutes or so. Add the seasonings, except tamari. Then add the stock or water and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and chicpeas, and simmer until the vegetables are soft. If the soup isn’t salty enough, add more salt or tamari. The recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of tamari, but that’s way too much for me, and sometimes I omit it altogether, and you might want to also, especially if you are using store-bought stock.
I almost always double this recipe, and still it’s usually gone in a couple of days. Most recently, I made a batch a day or two ago, and then served some to the mastermind behind my amazing CSA (community shared agriculture), the lovely Shannon from the Kawartha CSA. (This is allowed – soup improves with time.)
Shannon knows a lot about food, especially good food, and some of the wonderful local fare she gets to me every week made its way into that soup. I got her nod of approval for it, which makes me rather confident sharing this recipe with you (to say nothing of the inimitable Moosewood collective): do give it a go.