Native Cooking: Nothing Says Comfort Like These Fall Soups

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There is something magical about fall aromas and colors, so comfortable and welcoming. It makes me want to have lots of comfort food, starting with thick, rich soup or chowder. Many people are still working on preserving their garden’s bounty, whether by eating, canning, freezing or drying it.

When we lived in another town about an hour away, baskets and brown paper grocery bags would appear on our back porch filled with neighbor’s excess veggies or fruit. Fall apples were always a hit. There was a strong chance they would probably get some of it back once I turned it into something else.

The fun part of this for me was pulling out a stack of cookbooks and magazines to find a new recipe to share. As Native Americans we know every day, every season brings a reason to be thankful, not just the fourth Thursday in November.

The fall brings so much, from home grown to wild, foraged foods and herbs.

Like so many Native American foods, butternut squash can be cooked and presented in a variety of ways. For eating plain or preparing for other recipes, slice a large squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and bake skin side up on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for an hour until the flesh is soft and tender. When cooled a little, gently scrape the pulp from the skin into a stockpot.

Thick-Creamy-Delicious Squash Soup

1 large (or 2 small) butternut squash prepared as above

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

2 to 4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock

1 cup sweet apple cider

1 heaping teaspoon cumin

1 heaping teaspoon curry powder

Salt & Pepper to taste

½ cup heavy cream (or substitute)

Prepare the squash as above, set aside. Saute the onion in butter until translucent. Cool a bit, mash and set aside squash. Put onion, squash and about ½ cup stock in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Puree and add more stock as needed, keeping it thick. Pour into a large heavy stockpot and stir in the remaining stock, cider and seasonings. Add and stir in cream just before serving.

Throw It In There Soup

1-2 quart(s) chicken, vegetable or beef stock

1 large carrot, chopped fine

1 stalk celery or leek, chopped fine

1 large onion, chopped fine

2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

¼ cup raw wild rice

½ cup wild mushrooms (any variety or mixture)

1 large can (1lb. 13oz.) white great northern beans

1 large bay leaf

Salt & Pepper to taste

Saute carrot, celery, and onion in a little butter, set aside. Put stock in a heavy bottomed sauce or stockpot and add beans, wild rice and sautéed vegetables. Simmer at least one hour until the rice is happy (well-cooked). You can play with this recipe by adding a chopped up cooked chicken breast, some kale, or any vegetable you would like to give the soup another dimension. That is why it is called “Throw it in There Soup…”

Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: “New Native American Cooking,” “Native New England Cooking” and “A Dreamcatcher Book.” She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.