It’s an image of my family I hope I’ll remember from this season of life: me, in the kitchen in my fuzzy socks, chopping vegetables; the boys at their train table mapping out a battle between their Lego guys and their Playmobil knights; Husband on the couch nearby, advising the commanders, watching football, and working on the Sunday crossword; Baby Sister navigating around all of us, leaving a trail of wooden blocks and Mardi Gras beads in her wake.
Making soup slows me down and forces me to stay home and attend – both to the stove and to the people that matter most. My house is filled with the aroma of cumin and onions, scents that smell to me like, well, love.
My favorite Sunday soup meal is a comforting one: vegetarian chili and cornbread. The chili gobbles up the last of our garden’s summer harvest: the tomatoes still hanging on in spite of the frost and the bell peppers that look to me like they could make it straight on through the snowy months. And the cornbread blends perfectly my husband’s preference for a crumbly bread with mine for a moist one.
Some recipes for you, my friends, with wishes for a cozy weekend from my house to yours:
Vegetarian Chili (adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The New Moosewood Cookbook)
Ingredients:1 cup tomato juice 1 cup uncooked pearled barley 2 TBSP olive oil 2 cups onion, chopped 8 cloves garlic, minced 1 carrot, diced 1 stalk celery, diced 2 tsp cumin 2 tsp dried basil (these days I use a few of the now dessicated leaves from my garden) 2 tsp chili powder (more if you like a spicier chili) 1 1/2 tsp salt black pepper and cayenne pepper, to taste 1 medium bell pepper, chopped 2 cups tomatoes, chopped 3 TBSP tomato paste 1 can kidney beans
1. Heat the tomato juice to boiling. Add it to the barley in a small bowl, cover, and let stand.
2. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add all the vegetables (except the bell pepper) and seasonings. Sauté about 5 minutes, then add the bell pepper. Continue to sauté until the vegetables are tender.
3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, soaked barley (with juice), and beans to the vegetables. (At this stage, I usually add 2-4 cups of water to help soften up the barley and because I prefer a soupier – rather than stew-ier – chili.) Simmer over lowest possible heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until barley is tender.
4. Serve with toppings of your choice. Chez Motherese, we enjoy grated cheese and chopped green onion.
Cheddar-Buttermilk Cornbread (adapted from a recipe my friend Sharon gave to me)
Ingredients:1 cup unbleached all purpose flour 1 cup yellow cornmeal 3/8 cup sugar 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 1 1/2 cups buttermilk 2 eggs 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, then cooled slightly
1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease 8×8 baking pan.
2. Whisk dry ingredients in medium bowl. Mix in cheese.
3. Whisk remaining ingredients in separate bowl to blend.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just incorporated. Some lumps are fine.
5. Pour into prepared pan and bake until golden on top, about 30 minutes.
6. Serve warm with chili.
What are your favorite fall meals?
I’m linking up today with: