Beet, Fennel & Pear SoupPhoto Credit : Krissy O’Shea
Autumn foods inspire my kitchen and my cooking, so in the early hours of those first chilly mornings, I often can be found next to a warm oven with a pan of something just baked. But as the day warms, I’m still craving the simple fare of summer. With so many combinations of earthy and sweet growing just outside the door, planning a fresh-from-the-garden meal this time of year is both rewarding and joyful.
An exuberant fall crop of beets was the inspiration for this soup. In the garden, I noticed the wispy green stalks and pale yellow flowers of fennel waving over the fence, ready for picking. Wanting one more sweet note, I chose pear, which also lends a bit of acidity.
This simple dish hits all the notes of early fall, with a velvety mouthfeel, rich cerise color, and easy adaptability. It can be served cold or warm, and it’s great with a dollop of something creamy. (I have a propensity for crème fraîche, but Greek yogurt or sour cream works equally well.) A little sprinkle of anything green and fresh is nice, too, such as fennel fronds, basil, chervil, or cilantro.