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Jessica’s Garden: Fall is in the air with Creamy Roasted Vegetable Soup

I am so absolutely excited that Fall is in the air. The weather this week has been refreshing and rejuvenating. I’ve been working on arranging my Fall garden this week. I don’t remember a time in my life where my family did not have a vegetable garden. But this will only be the second year that I’ve attempted extending the harvest season into later months.

My heart was a little heavy this weekend as I pulled and bagged the majority of the tomato plants. Most had shriveled and put forth the last of their fruit. There are about five plants still remaining that refuse to stop producing. On the other hand, I now have plenty of space for my new seedlings.

With the farmhouse renovation still going strong, time has certainly had its limitations. So I cheated a little. I picked up a few seedlings for bok choy, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage and broccoli from a local farm stand to pop straight in the ground. I also have my own purple kohlrabi, red and Chiogga beets, rutabaga, leeks and spinach to sow directly into the soil. I’ve also tried rainbow Swiss chard and rainbow carrots in a fall garden.

Sundays Harvest
Sundays Harvest

This week’s harvest was quite diverse. There were still a few pounds of tomatoes, lots of jalapenos and fish peppers, gomphrena flowers, and a couple of sunflower heads for drying and roasting.

Grayson with dipper gourds
Grayson with dipper gourds

But the best part was the dipper gourd harvest. Dipper gourds are a fall gourd that can be grown and dried out for a variety of purposes. I trained my one plant to grow up and over and through the 8’ deer fence we have surrounding the garden.

I have never seen anything quite like it. I couldn’t believe the tendrils on this plant, some reaching lengths that I estimated to be about 30’ long! From my one plant, I was able to gather 40 gourds.

After being wiped down with a light bleach solution, they can be dried when laid out in a single layer, turning daily for 6-8 weeks. I have ambitions of making birdhouses; lots and lots of birdhouses.

Canned Asian Pears

On the canning front, I of course couldn’t help myself. My husband’s boss’ neighbor found out I was a canner and offered me a basin full of beautiful Asian Pears, which quintessentially looked like autumn.They taste absolutely delicious. Raw and fresh, they are sweet and juicy and crisp and light. Not at all like the standard pear.

Canned, they have a very similar consistency to a regular canned pear, but have a very light flavor and a slight crispness, reminiscent of an apple. I know Grayson is going to love them come cooler weather. I can already taste them as an after-supper treat swimming in a little bit of heavy cream. My English grandmother used to serve us canned fruit this way as children–after supper rather than cake and pastries.

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

This week I also tried pickling cherry tomatoes for the first time. What an easy way to preserve an abundant harvest. I pickled them in apple cider vinegar with a sprig of fresh rosemary and a clove of garlic. The recipe suggests using them for anything you would use a fresh cherry tomato for. I imagine they are tangy and sweet on a winter salad or fun on a ploughman’s cheese tray. At the very least, they are possibly the prettiest concoction I’ve ever put up.

As previously mentioned, I am greatly looking forward to fall. As if that weren’t obvious. It is, hands down, my favorite time of year. So on top of a pumpkin latte this week, I also made up a batch of one of my most favorite Fall suppers with a few garden goodies and farmer’s market finds.

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Creamy Roasted Vegetable Soup

8-10 Cups Mixed Root Vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, turnips, butternut squash, sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips)
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning (See entry from 8/27 for Home-made recipe)
¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 Cup Dry White Wine (Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio)
1 Cup Fat Free Half and Half
½ Cup Low Fat Sour Cream
64 oz Chicken Broth
½ C Grated Parmesan Cheese
¼-½ C Walnuts, toasted in a dry skillet

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees. Coat chopped vegetables in oil, Italian seasoning, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Roast for 45-60, minutes turning once midway through cooking, until veggies are fork tender and caramelized. Add veggies to large stock pot with half of chicken stock and wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. In food processor, blender, or with emersion blender, pulse veggies and stock until smooth and creamy. Add remaining chicken stock as needed to obtain desired thickness. Return to stock pot and add remaining ingredients and gently cook until all ingredients are incorporated and Parmesan is melted. Serve garnished with 1 Tbsp freshly toasted walnuts.

This soup is tasty with a salad or sandwich for a hearty lunch or supper. This recipe makes quite a bit of soup and makes excellent leftovers. I send them with my hubby for work lunches. You can experiment with root veggies. The base of this week’s batch was a butternut squash out the garden. The onions, beets and purple Peruvian potatoes also came from this summer’s garden. I’ve found that an onion or two is necessary; it adds a caramelized sweetness. This recipe is also a great way to use up leftover veggies from Sunday’s roast as roasted veggies don’t always re-heat nicely. Oh and you’ve been warned, even just one beet with yield hot-pink soup!

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

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. I enjoyed this article and this seems like a very appealing soup.
    My question may seem like knit-picking but I am mildly perplexed by the recipe title vs the ingredient list and I need to know what veggies will be good in it. Butternut squash and artichokes aren’t root vegetables, are they? So is the recipe supposed to be for only root vegetables (or primarily?) or will other veggies work and maintain its texture. For example, what would roasted eggplant do to the recipe?

  2. Hi Kathy-
    Not a funny question at all. Jerusalem artichokes are very different than what we standardly call artichokes. In fact, they aren’t an artichoke at all. Or from Jerusalem. They are a tuber that grows under the ground similar to a potato. Sometimes you will see them called sun chokes as well. And you are correct in saying that a butternut squash is not exactly a root veggie. I suppose in my head, I incorrectly clump fall and winter squashes in with root veggies like carrots, parsnips and potatoes because they mature around the same time and I tend to prepare them in the same fashion. I have never tried adding a vegetable like eggplant. My concerns would be the eggplant oxidizing (they can turn a funky grey) and creating an un appealing color, they’re quite seedy and might create an unpleasant texture in a creamy and smooth soup and also they contain much more water than the suggested veggies; it could really change the consistency. But there are no rules to cooking, doesn’t hurt to experiment! Hope this helps clear things up. Hope you try the recipe and thanks for reading!

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