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Fend off the fall chill with these hearty soup favorites

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By David Kelly
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:29 p.m.

All summer long, local farmers have been growing those great orange globes that you see in front of every market and at every roadside stand.

Pumpkins look like they have had a good year judging by the size, color and abundance available.

We'll be looking forward to some pumpkin pie soon, and of course, the whole crew will be selecting designs to carve for the Halloween season.

With the start of fall, it's also the official start of the soup season. Here's an idea that uses Amaretto to add a nice flavor to cream of pumpkin soup.

You don't have to go through the process of buying, cleaning and cooking a pumpkin to make this soup. This recipe uses pumpkin pie mix as a base.

Amaretto cream of pumpkin soup

(serves six to eight)

2 small onions, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups pumpkin pie mix

1 cup canned chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

dash of Tabasco sauce

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoonsAmaretto

freshly grated nutmeg for garnish

In a large saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter and then add the onions to the pan. Cook the onions until they are softened, stirring often.

Add the pumpkin pie mix and the chicken broth and stir to mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring often, still over moderate heat.

When the boiling point has been reached, reduce to a simmer, stir in the cream and bring back to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the stove and let the mixture cool slightly. When cooled enough to handle, puree the soup in batches in a blender or processor, carefully.

Transfer the puree to a clean pan and season to taste with the hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Heat the soup over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the soup is hot. Stir in the Amaretto. Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of the freshly grated nutmeg and serve.

The first time that we have a really chilly day, everyone will nominate you for president if you make them a good old fashioned chicken soup.

This recipe uses chicken that has been roasted, as a base. So, next time you are planning on roasting a chicken for dinner, roast two, one for the dinner and one for the soup pot.

Or, you can buy one of the spit roasted chickens at the local market when you are shopping.

Roasted chicken soup with root vegetables

(makes about six servings)

One 3 1/4to 3 1/2pound chicken that has been roasted

chicken carcass, reserved from roasted chicken

6 quarts water

1 large onion, halved, plus one cup chopped

4 peeled garlic cloves, 2 whole, 2 sliced

3 carrots, cut into chunks, plus 1 1/2cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled carrot

3 celery stalks, cut into chunks

4 bay leaves, divided

4 large fresh Italian parsley sprigs, plus chopped parsley for garnish

4 large fresh thyme sprigs, plus 2 teaspoons chopped

12 whole allspice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled celery root

1 1/2cups cubed, peeled sweet potatoes

1 cup cubed, peeled parsnips

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Cut the meat off the chicken and dice it and set aside. Place the chicken carcass into an 8 to 10 quart pot with 5-quarts of water.

Add the halved onion, whole garlic cloves, carrot chunks, celery chunks, two bay leaves, parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs and Allspice into the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 1- 12 hours.

Strain the broth and return to a clean pot and boil until reduced to seven cups. Heat the oil in another large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, sliced garlic, 2 bay leaves and sauté' for two minutes.

Add the carrot cubes, chopped thyme, celery root, sweet potatoes, parsnips, sea salt and the seven cups of broth.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the diced chicken, adjust the salt and add pepper. Serve the soup garnished with chopped parsley.

As always, enjoy!

David Kelly has been a culinary columnist for 20 years. He is originally from the New England area, but now calls Western Pennsylvania his home.

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