September is a transitional month, an “in between time” in so many ways. That the kids are back in school and we are resuming our normal routines means there’s no denying summer is over. And yet … the days are still warm and sunny, though they start to bump up against some newly crisp mornings, especially later in the month. It’s a juxtaposition of endings and new beginnings.
You can also notice this overlap at the farmer’s market or in your grocery store’s produce aisle. Bins of heirloom tomatoes, peaches, and corn, still available in many places, sit side by side with the first apples of the season, and squash and beans that call out to us to cook with them instead.
The recipes below are perfect summer-to-fall dishes. The soups—both the black bean and the butternut squash— are hearty, but not too rich or heavy. (It is way too early for true comfort food.) That they’re healthy goes without saying: beans pack the fiber and protein and are full of other important micronutrients such as zinc and iron. Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, and folate; minerals include calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
The burgers, reminiscent of recent summer barbecues, are made with mushrooms for a touch of fall earthiness. And the baked apples, filled with a mixture of butter, oats, spices, raisins and chopped nuts, are just yummy, whether on their own or topped with a scoop of vanilla or salted caramel ice cream.
Though you may be sad to see summer go, these simple, healthy, recipes will make the transition easier, and are a delicious way to celebrate the new season when September 22 rolls around. Happy Fall!
Easy Black Bean Soup
- 3 tbs olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ tbs chili powder, or more to taste
- 2 15 oz cans black beans, or 3 cups cooked from dry
- 3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or bone broth, depending on how thick or thin you like your soup
- Juice of ½ to 1 lime, or to taste
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- Sour cream or plain yogurt to garnish, or 1 egg
- Optional adds: shredded chicken or roasted turkey piece, grated cheese, or sliced avocado
- Heat 2 tbs of the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chili powder and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional minute.
- Add the beans, stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes.
- If you’re topping your soup with an egg: heat an additional tbs of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium to low heat, add the egg and fry slowly until the whites are set and the yolk is to your liking. (A softer yolk will disperse in the soup.)
- Remove from heat. To thicken the soup, puree it briefly either with a stick blender, or transfer half to a blender and blend. Add the lime juice and adjust seasoning as necessary. If using, add chicken, cheese, avocado, or the egg. Garnish with cilantro and yogurt or sour cream, and serve.
Butternut squash sweet potato soup with apple
- 2 ½ lb butternut squash, halved, or cut-up pieces
- 1 sweet potato, cut into chunks
- 2 medium carrots, cut into 2” lengths
- 4 tbs unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 celery ribs, sliced
- 1 apple, cored and diced
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 5 cups chicken or bone broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°. Place chunks of cut squash (or squash halves, cut side down), sweet potato, and carrots on a baking sheet and bake 30 minutes, or until tender. Let cool slightly. (Use a spoon to scoop out seeds from the squash halves, then scrape squash from skin.) Set vegetables aside in a large bowl.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add onion, celery, apple, and rosemary, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 40 minutes.
- Discard rosemary. Stir in the broth and roasted vegetables. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- In a food processor or blender, puree the soup in batches. Return soup to saucepan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until heated through. Yields about 6 servings.
Earthy mushroom burgers
- 1 ½ - 2 ½ cups cubed mushrooms, about 6 oz, preferably portobellos
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ½ cup oat bran (cornmeal is fine too)
- 8 oz cheese such as Swiss or Jarlsberg, shredded
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Olive oil for pan frying
- Extra cheese to top, optional
- Combine mushrooms, beaten eggs, oat bran, shredded cheese, parsley, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Process the mixture slightly to more easily shape burgers. You may need to add additional binder (bran or corn meal) to help hold the mixture together.
- Using your hands, press ingredients into burgers.
- Heat 2 tbs oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pan-fry burgers for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden. Turn and brown second side for an additional 3-4 minutes, topping with extra cheese if desired.
- Serve plain, on whole grain bread or bun, and garnish with your burger favorites.
- 3 tbs unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (or vegan butter or butter substitute)
- ¼ cup packed coconut sugar (or dark brown sugar)
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup old fashioned rolled oats
- Raisins, dried cranberries, chopped nuts (to your liking)
- 4 large apples (round, firm, such as granny smith, fuji, pink lady, or honeycrisp)
- ¾ cup warm water (or for extra flavor, warm apple cider)
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Using a fork (or handheld or stand mixer with the paddle attachment) mash the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together until combined. Stir in the oats, then raisins and chopped nuts. Set aside.
- Using a sharp pairing knife core the apple about halfway or three quarters of the way down. Using a spoon carefully dig out the core and seeds.
- Place cored apples in a baking dish, cake pan or pie dish. Spoon filling into each apple up to the top. Pour warm water (or apple cider) into the dish around the apples. The water will prevent the apples from drying out or burning.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until apples are slightly soft.
- Serve alone or with salted caramel or vanilla ice cream. Either way they’re delicious!
- Cover and store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days.