Autumn is my favorite time of year, not least because it’s harvest time. Beets, carrots, onions, leeks, celeriac, potatoes of all kinds, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, yams, garlic, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, eggplant, fennel, kale, wild mushrooms, okra, pumpkins, spinach, winter squash—the list goes on and on. With so many colorful, nutritious, and flavorful vegetables plucked fresh from the earth, there’s no time like the fall for making soup.
For a larger gathering, our annual Harvest Soup Party is the perfect, low-stress way to celebrate the season’s bounty. The instructions on the invitations are simple: “Bring 1 cup chopped pot-ready vegetables.” When the guests arrive, I ask them to dump their vegetables into the pot of broth boiling on the stove. We’ve had as many as 50 university students at a party at one time, and there is always plenty of soup to go around. I bake several breads and set out spreads, cheeses, and drinks. Admittedly, this is a direct take on the classic Stone Soup as described in the folktale of the same name. But it works, and not just with a gathering at home but for neighborhoodwide parties, church dinners, and extended family gatherings, as well. Fall is also a great time to pour soup into a thermos, pack a blanket and a warm loaf of bread, and take a drive through the colorful countryside, or chase away the chill at a football game or tailgate party, or seize the moment and picnic under a tree at the peak of foliage. There’s no better way to appreciate the simple, soulful pleasure of soup and bread.
This is the ideal potluck soup, in which you ask each guest to contribute at least 1 cup of cut-up vegetables to the pot. It’s inspired by the classic folktale.
Makes 10 servings
1 stone, such as a smooth granite or basalt, 3" to 4" in diameter, scrubbed clean
4 quarts vegetable broth, chicken stock, beef stock, or water
10 cups chopped vegetables such as potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, or celery
Salt and ground black pepper
More Fall Soup Recipes: Autumn Root Vegetable Chowder • Green Cabbage and Hamburger Soup • Curried Chicken Wild Rice • Easy Cream of Tomato Soup
Place the stone in the pot. Add the broth, stock, or water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the vegetables as guests arrive, and cover. Cook until all of the vegetables are fork-tender, the “magic moment” when the soup comes together and all the vegetables are done, between 1 and 2 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and invite guests to sprinkle on herbs and cheese.