Crisp, sunny days with painfully perfect blue skies and red, orange and yellow leaves crackling across the still green grass. That’s Autumn in the Ohio Valley.
Makes me wax all poetic like, these perfect October days. Saturday was a full day of raking leaves and pine needles, and turning over parts of the garden, and planting garlic and shallots for next year, and picking the last ripe tomatoes of the season.
True fact: soup is a big, warm hug at the end of a chilly Fall day.
Like many of you, I suspect, I grew up on Campbell’s vegetable soup. Mom made it extra special with a splash of tangy apple cider vinegar. My friends clamored for the alphabet soup, but not me.
Yup, I was the weird kid that ate her vegetables.
But, grown-up SoupAddict no longer eats soup out of a can. Not when fresh vegetables spring up from the ground in SoupAddict’s backyard from April to November. The scent of simmering soup signals hearth and home to me. And that’s just not something to be found in a can.
Thick, hearty vegetable soup, full of the season’s best produce, and topped with toasty, crusty bread. Totally hits the spot.
Oh, and did I mention there’s an egg? This baby is not just soup — it’s a meal.
Autumn Vegetable Bread Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 generous servings
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed
1 onion, diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 rib celery thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes peeled and chopped or (1) 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
1 head savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
2 large leaves Swiss chard, stems removed, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 thick slices rustic bread (fresh or day-old)
1 cup grated cheese (Gruyere or Gouda is nice)
4 eggs, soft boiled or poached (or fried, if you don’t like runny yolk)
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a large stock pot. Add leeks, onion, butternut squash, pepper and celery. Let cook for 8-10 minutes, until onions are soft. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add tomatoes and turn heat to medium-high. Add the cabbage, Swiss chard and a generous pinch or two of salt. Stir to mix well and cook for five minutes. Add stock and water and bring to a nice simmer. Turn heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
2. While soup is simmering, cut bread slices into 2” pieces and place in one layer on a baking sheet. Brush bread lightly with olive oil on both sides. Season one side lightly with salt. Broil on high until toasted. Flip all bread pieces over and return to oven to toast the other side. Remove from oven.
3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (this should happen quickly because the broiler was just running). Line the bottom of a large oven-proof casserole or dutch oven with half of the bread pieces. Ladle soup over bread. Layer the remaining bread on top of soup. Sprinkle cheese over bread and drizzle with olive oil. Arrange the eggs on top.
4. Place dish, uncovered, in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Soup will be hot and bubbly. Spoon into four large soup bowls or mugs, making sure each gets an egg. Season egg lightly with pepper.