Autumn Chowder [and remembering at the table]

Autumn Chowder - Sarah J. Hauser

It’s a Wednesday night. We’re on the homestretch after a day filled with toddler laughs and toys strewn on the floor, naptime snuggles and pleas to share. I pull out the giant soup pot I inherited from my mom. That pot has seen gallons of homemade spaghetti sauce, wild rice soup, and our perpetual favorite, Autumn Chowder. I place it on the stove, turn on the heat, and start frying chopped bacon and sauteing an onion. The potatoes, carrots, and corn get dumped in next, followed by broth, milk, and loads of cheese. It’s hearty, rich, and full of the flavors of fall—quintessential comfort food.

I think of my mom while I stir, and soon I’m back in her kitchen. The fan above her stove hums, and the smell of bacon wafts through the house. She wears a stained apron and holds a wooden spoon in her hand. She stirs up magic in that pot. Dishes cover the kitchen island, alongside the skins of onions and trimmings from carrots. Our excitement grows as dinnertime nears. The “First Making of Autumn Chowder” felt like a special occasion, despite usually occurring on an average weeknight amidst soccer practice and algebra homework. We set bowls and soup spoons on the table—the table always adorned with one of my mom’s seasonal tablecloths—and shuffle to fold napkins, fill glasses, and find our seats.

I pull myself out of the memory and back into my own kitchen. Dirty dishes balance in a precarious stack next to the sink, and the squeals of three kids fill our ears. Our table sits bare. I rarely use a tablecloth, and attempting to set out dishes and utensils in advance seems useless with a one-year-old who constantly climbs on said table. But my stovetop fan hums a familiar tune, and the savory aroma of onions and bacon smells like memories that make me tear up—although I blame it on the pesky alliums.

It’s been five years since she died, and I notice her absence most when I’m cooking. Yet somehow it feels like the act of chopping vegetables and melting cheese keeps her alive.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs.

Autumn Chowder - Sarah J. Hauser
Autumn Chowder - Sarah J. Hauser
Autumn Chowder - Sarah J. Hauser
Autumn Chowder - Sarah J. Hauser
Autumn Chowder - Sarah J. Hauser

Read the full essay and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs.


Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!]

Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser

Last year about this time, a few friends hosted a shower to celebrate the birth of our third. I gave birth to him in July, but with summer schedules and newborn exhaustion, we decided to wait until the fall for a baby shower—and I loved it!

Celebrating three months into his life forced me to stop and practice gratitude in a way I couldn’t necessarily do during pregnancy. It allowed me to step away from the diapers and spit-up and appointments. It created space to gather with friends and family and look back on what God gave us in this sweet, little boy—while still looking forward to his life ahead.

My friends know me well, too, because that evening, they made it a point to serve home-cooked food and sit around the table together. We passed baskets of bread, poured glasses of wine, and savored spoonfuls of soup. We chatted and laughed, talked about birth stories, and commiserated with each other about sleepless nights. I remember thinking how grateful I was for my new son and the loved ones who took the time to celebrate him with me. What a gift.

Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser
Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser
Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser
Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser
Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser
Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon [Paleo and Whole30!] - Sarah J. Hauser

My friend who hosted my baby shower ladled soups into small glass jars. I thought it was a great idea, and it made it easy for people to try both soups she offered that night. Not only do jars work well for serving smaller portions to a group, but it makes it easy to snag a cup for lunch to go alongside a salad or sandwich.

This Butternut Squash Soup is dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo, and Whole30, so it works for all kinds of diets! You can also omit or serve the bacon on the side for a vegan option. Enjoy!


Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary + Bacon
Yields about 10 cups

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 ½-4 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
⅓ cup full fat coconut milk (from a can, not a coconut milk beverage)
8-12 ounces bacon
2-3 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and apples, and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 4-6 minutes until the onions are translucent.

Add the white wine vinegar, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 1 more minute. (Add about ¼ cup of stock if the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pot.)

Pour in the broth and add the squash. Turn the heat to medium-high, cover, and bring to a boil. The reduce the heat to low and simmer (covered) until the squash is tender, about 20-25 minutes.

While the soup cooks, fry the bacon until crisp, and chop into small pieces.

Turn the heat off the soup. Stir in the coconut milk. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, allow soup to cool for a bit and then transfer to a regular blender in batches to puree.

Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowls for serving. Top with crisp bacon pieces and chopped rosemary. Enjoy!

Note: This pairs really well with Crostini with Caramelized Apples, Fontina + Rosemary!