La Bonne Vie: Fall in Indiana means it's soup weather

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By: Rachel Shenk

Rachel Shenk/La Bonne Vie

About two weeks ago, when October was still leaning toward the sunny side, there came a Saturday that threw us for a loop. Jim and I were planning to go to the Apple Festival in Kendallville, which was in its 30th year. Jim had a trio of music gigs to play; I was just tagging along for the ride.

With a predicted high of 53 degrees and rain in the forecast, I lay my plans. First, I had to work through the early morning hours at the bakery after a very short night of sleep. The Goshen Oktoberfest coupled with the Goshen College alumni weekend brought quite a breakfast crowd, and our whole staff was kept on its toes. Once I got the fougasses shaped and most of the bread in and out of the wood-fired oven, I filled a bag with our favorite pastries, grabbed a thermos of piping hot coffee, some cream and some sugar, and headed home to feed and water the dog.

I pulled on a pair of my warmest boots, added an extra T-shirt and my wool sweater on top of that. After slipping on my cozy blue coat, I searched for and found my knit hat, my gloves and a long scarf for good measure.

As I drove down to Kendallville, I took in the changing farm landscape. Fields once green were harvested, dried and brown. Trees were shifting colors, and every now and then a splash of red or orange appeared in the woods. The rain made its appearance and the sound it made against the car’s windshield made me think it was sleeting. I shivered and turned the heat up a notch.

As I arrived close to the festival grounds, I was surprised to see the weather had not put a damper on the attendance or the festival. Everyone came bundled up, some even dressed in period costumes. Despite the cold and the wetness, folks were enjoying themselves. I walked up and down, watching the cooks gather around the fires, stirring soup, cider and popcorn in big copper kettles.

I soon found Jim sitting on a hay bale. Since he had been outside all day, we temporarily headed to the warmth of the car, where the coffee and pastries came in handy. Then, back out we went. I bought mums, a wreath and colorful gourds from a booth and caramel corn from another. We watched the crowds as they lined up for sizzling apple fritters and steaming cups of mulled cider. We roamed through the craft vendors and the artisan demonstrators. Jim played his last time slot and we drove home through one of those amazing fall sunsets. I cooked a pot of soup and its warmth seeped into our cold bones.

Through it all, I was amazed at the diversity of those in attendance as well as their determination despite the weather. Fall in Indiana is like this. We take it as it comes. We enjoy the clear sunny days, but are ready for those sudden plunges. And when the rain and the chill hit, it’s soup weather. Here is a heartwarming broccoli and corn soup we have enjoyed.

Broccoli and corn chowder

Ingredients

  • 4 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp. dried sage or use 4 fresh sage leaves if you have them
  • ½ tsp. cumin seeds
  • 4 cup broccoli, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 ¼ c. half and half
  • 1 can corn, or corn cut from 3 fresh ears if you have them
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. each parsley and green onion
  • 1 ½ cup Emmental or Swiss cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup white wine, room temperature

Directions

  1. In large pot, bring the water, bay leaf, sage and cumin seeds to a boil. Throw in the broccoli and cook for one minute.
  2. While water is coming to a boil, melt the butter in a saucepan and sauté onion until translucent. Add flour and stir well. Add half and half and keep stirring until smooth.
  3. Pour into the broccoli mixture and add corn, green onions, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes. Slowly stir in cheese and wine. Stir until cheese is melted.
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