As sweater season begins, it’s time to start incorporating those harvest vegetables into your everyday meals.  There’s no better way to chase away the fall chill than with a few hearty soups and festive cocktails, both comforting and delicious.

One of the easiest ways to keep to your food shopping budget is to make the most out of what is in season.  By putting a spin on items like corn, squash, and pumpkin, you can provide trendy but hearty dishes. One of our number one best sellers at Berghoff Catering is Butternut Squash Soup.

Butternut Squash Soup

Yield: 3 Quarts/Serves 8 to 12

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced white onions
  • 2 leeks split, cleaned well, and chopped coarsely
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 butternut squash (about 4 pounds), peeled and cubed (see Note)
  • 6 cups chicken broth, plus extra for thinning
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • Sour cream, for garnish

Instructions

Heat the oil in a heavy 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, ginger, and cinnamon, and decrease the heat to medium. Cover the pot and simmer until the onions are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the squash and continue to cook, covered, for another 10 minutes, until the squash and onions begin to caramelize (they should liquefy slightly and become brownish in color). Add the chicken broth and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes.

When cooled enough to handle, working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor, or with an immersion blender. Cool the puree slightly, cover, and refrigerate. This step may be done one day prior to serving.

When ready to serve, return the soup to the pot and bring to a simmer, until heated through. Thin the soup with more broth if necessary, to reach the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot or cold. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, 1 ½ cups per serving. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Notes

Variations: Add heavy cream, light cream, half-and-half, or coconut milk to the soup, to increase the richness and enhance the texture. Notes: Butternut squash already peeled, trimmed, and cut up for your convenience may be purchased in packages at specialty grocery stores.

http://www.theberghoff.com/2013/10/31/taste-fall/

When I serve this at home, I ladle the soup into big bowls.  When company comes over, we take it up a notch and serve the soup in hollowed-out acorn squash bowls. They are easily created by cutting a small slice off the bottom of the squash, just enough to level it. Brush or spray the outside with oil and bake in a 450°F oven until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Cut off the top and hollow out the squash just enough to make a bowl.

Another great way to give any fall gathering a truly autumnal feel is through serving a festive cocktail.  We all know that every great party starts with a cocktail.  This time of the year we are loving Pumpkin Martinis.  It’s a great way to warm you up and who said you couldn’t drink your veggies?

Pumpkin Pie Martini

Yield: 1 Martini

Pumpkin Pie Martini

Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces Kahlua
  • 1.5 ounces Pumpkin Liqueur
  • 1.5 ounces butterscotch schnapps
  • 1.5 ounces Half and Half

Instructions

Add all ingredients together in a martini shaker with ices.

Shake and serve in a martini glass.

http://www.theberghoff.com/2013/10/31/taste-fall/

What’s your favorite harvest vegetable to cook with?