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Jessica’s Garden: Getting Into the Spirit of Fall

roasting-vegetables

With the garden going through a transition phase between Summer and Fall crops, I have been grateful for the availability of other local produce. The tomatoes have petered out and require picking the remaining fruit, which will be turned into sauces, chutney and pickles. While the Summer crops have retired with the exception of our pepper plants, we’ve harvested several fresh red beets and the first of our radishes.  As the garden’s in its quiet state, we’ve been turning our focus a bit.

My husband has been working feverishly, with the help of family as often as it’s been offered, to renovate the last remaining bedroom as we are expecting a baby girl around Thanksgiving. While renovations are mostly out of the picture for me at the moment, I have been focusing on stocking my Etsy shop and filling custom orders for the holidays. And as a family, we’ve been focusing on creating a few memories with our son before his world is rocked by the arrival of a sibling. We have attended several Fall Festivals including the Maryland Renaissance Festival and National Apple Harvest Festival to get into the spirit of the change of seasons.

Grayson also had the annual Fall Harvest Festival at his school this week.  Among the games and activities, there was also a fresh vegetable stand where all the produce had been generously donated by a local Westminster farmer. We picked up several items to tide us through the next couple of weeks as the garden matures. One of my favorite Fall veggies is Butternut Squash. It’s sweet and pumpkin-like, without the fibrous texture of its orange cousin. On nights when we are looking for something light and satisfying, I turn to simple recipes like Chai Spiced Butternut Squash Soup to warm and fill our tummies. Served with a fresh loaf of bread for dipping, it’s a perfect Fall supper.  Our bread of choice is Safeway’s Fresh Rosemary Bread; a great savory compliment to the soup. And if you’re feeling like a more substantial meal, picture a Smoked Gouda Panini on the Rosemary bread, dipped in this creamy soup. Hungry yet?

butternut-squash-soup


Chai Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

1 Medium Sized Butternut Squash; peeled, seeds removed and cut into uniform chunks
1 Medium Onion; cut into 6 chunks
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil (for roasting)
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Chai Seasoning (See note at bottom of recipe)
32 Oz. Chicken Stock
1 Pt. Fat Free Half and Half
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Cup Light Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat chopped veggies in oil and spices.  Roast until fork tender; about 40 minutes. Add roasted vegetables to stock pot with broth and bring to a gentle boil. Add half and half but do not boil, only simmer as cream will curdle. With stick blender, blend ingredients until smooth and consistent texture. Transferring to a food processor or blender in batches will also suffice. Add remaining ingredients, blend again if necessary. Otherwise whisk to incorporate. Bring to a simmer and serve while hot.

Note: My friend made a homemade chai seasoning blend for me as a Christmas gift from a recipe she obtained online. This could be done or else I’d imagine that pumpkin pie spice with a pinch of cardamom added would suffice.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Instead of trying to make chai seasoning, could you steep a few chai teabags (black tea or green tea) in the chicken broth?

  2. Hi April

    Thank you for reading this week’s article. You could certainly try this technique. That’s the beauty of cooking, there’s no rules. With baking, that’s a whole other story. My only hesitation would be that the chai seasoning is a blend of powdered ‘warm’ spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom. It has none of that black tea or vanilla taste, which I generally associate with chai. But it’s always worth a try. Maybe test it before adding it to the soup, just in case. If you do try this approach, I’d love to hear the outcome!

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