As the weather cools off and the sun sets earlier, curling up with blankets and something warm to eat becomes more and more tempting. Cookouts are being replaced with slow cookers and picnics with cozy dinner parties. Fall weather also means you’ll want to spend less time standing in your kitchen, cooking. With seasonal produce switching from berries, tomatoes and cucumbers to squash, root vegetables and cabbage, menu-planning can become more challenging, too.
Luckily, the cool weather and fall vegetables offer the perfect solution for a soul-warming, one-pot meal everyone in your family will love: hearty, nutritious fall vegetable soup.
The benefits of soups made with vegetables that are in season this time of year are numerous. Fall and winter often lead to more hibernating, and the temptation to reach for simple carbohydrates can be strong. Couple this with less sunshine during the day – and less vitamin D – and nutrient-rich foods are more important than ever! These soups are full of potassium and vitamins A, C and D and added complex grains boost protein to the level of a meat-based entree – with much less work!
Fall soups also tend to be more filling than spring and summer soups, because the produce is richer and heartier, so they make a meal in and of themselves. And because they’re one-pot meals, you can prepare – or even cook! – them the night before, and heat them up when you get home from work or school or apple picking.
These three soup recipes will warm you up and free you up to enjoy all that fall has to offer, like the beautiful foliage and the crisp walking weather, while filling you up with all the nutrients your body needs this time of year.
Fall Vegetable Soup
This beautiful soup stars a cornucopia of fall vegetables and just about every nutrient you could want. Along with butternut squash, which is loaded with vitamins A and C, the soup features North Carolina’s own sweet potatoes, a powerhouse starchy vegetable that provides a good dose of fiber and slow-burning carbohydrates, ideal for maintaining satiety and blood sugar.
As if the colorful vegetables weren’t enough, this soup packs in protein and fiber through the addition of quinoa and chickpeas. No doubt, this dish will keep you full for hours after enjoying it!
Tip: instead of peeling the squash, which can be cumbersome, roast it in a 400-degree oven for 20-30 minutes until it is soft enough to halve and cut the flesh into cubes.
Hearty Kale and Bean Soup
This nutrient-packed recipe from our own Registered Dietitians features kale, a hardy fall vegetable full of vitamins K, A, B-6 and C, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. The fiber and antioxidant content of this leafy green makes it an excellent addition to any diet and lends to its classification as a “superfood” for those looking to prevent and/or manage chronic diseases like high cholesterol or even cancer.
The soup uses three kinds of beans that are packed with fiber and protein, adding texture and flavor, as well as a generous serving of garlic, which has been touted for its potential homeopathic benefits like fighting the common cold.
Since this hearty soup freezes wonderfully, feel free to make a double batch and freeze in zip-close bags to have a second easy lunch or dinner.
Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup
The Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup is a two-step process, but neither step is labor-intensive, and the result is silky, heavenly and rich-tasting without being full of fat. A few hours or a day ahead of time, you’ll roast a colorful variety of fall vegetables, including potassium-rich red potatoes and the carrots your parents always told you to eat. Carrots are full of vitamin A and beta carotene, which really can benefit vision health and potentially prevent the development of conditions like macular degeneration! Roasting takes close to an hour, so put your vegetables in the oven and enjoy the fall weather for a while.
Combine your roasted vegetables, including sweet and nutty roasted garlic in a blender and puree them with water before putting the mixture on the stove to heat through. Including prepping your vegetables for roasting, the entire process should take no more than two hours, with only about 20 minutes of actual handling time. The recipe yields a soup that’s creamy from the starchy vegetables without the addition of added calories from high-fat dairy products.
This soup, like all pureed soups, freezes perfectly in ice cube trays. Just pop out the frozen cubes and store them in freezer bags for perfectly portioned soup anytime you want it!
With fall vegetable soup recipes as easy, delicious and chock-full of nutrients as these, meal-planning will become your favorite fall activity. Well, maybe after apple-picking, that is.