5 Fall Meals We’re Excited to Make

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Dear Frances,

We’re starting to see a change in the weather here (hopefully the 90 degree days are behind us) and it has me thinking about changing up the menu plan. It still might not be “sweater weather,” here, but it is definitely “soup weather”! Out are main dish salads and in are soups and stews!

I thought I’d easily come up with five things I’m excited to cook, but I’ve realized that I could use some inspiration in this department. So, I’m looking forward to stealing a few ideas from both you and our readers!

Without further ado, here are five things that I’m looking forward to making now that the weather has cooled down.

1. Ultimate Beef Stew (Ina Garten)
We were deep into the pandemic when I sent out a call for help over on my Facebook group for some new ideas for dinner. Feeding five adults night after night had worn out every idea I had. Luckily Susan came to the rescue with this gem, and it’s been in heavy rotation ever since.

2. Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

This soup is so rich and delicious! But you have to be prepared to sacrifice six egg whites (or commit to egg white omelets for a few days). Seriously, we scramble up the egg whites and give them to the dogs. Back to the soup–it’s basically avgolemeno with chicken and it’s delish.

3. Black Bean Soup (Moosewood)

You and I never seem to shut up about this one. But seriously, so good and easy! It’s even better with slow-cooked black beans, but honestly, I never do that. The only part that I don’t always have on hand is the cilantro (but actually, I usually do have that), so it’s a great last-minute dinner.

4. Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’ve attached a PDF of the recipe–it’s actually for Crockpot Chicken Tacos–which are frankly, just OK. BUT, you can take that chicken and turn it into the easiest (and tastiest) chicken tortilla soup ever! At this point, I just make the chicken for the soup (and don’t worry–the chicken is super easy too–and is even easier to make in the Instant Pot).

5. Golden Cheddar Soup (Moosewood)

We have a tradition (borrowed from my husband’s family) of having soup on Christmas Eve. Golden Cheddar is the soup I’ve been making for years for that night. I don’t know why it never occurs to me to make it on other days–but let this post be a reminder to me to work it in a few times this season! It’s not so crazy heavy as many potato cheese soup recipes, and it’s packed with veggies.

I always seem to forget that I have recipes saved to Pinterest, but was reminded as I was looking for links for this post. If you are interested, here is my Soup board.

How you? What are you looking forward to cooking this fall? And it doesn’t have to be soup!


Dear Kristin,

It’s definitely fall around here–cool nights and mornings, daily highs in the low 70s and slinking into the 60s. I love cooking this time of year and on into the winter months. One thing I really look forward to is soup. I don’t know if I’ve written about it in this space before, but growing up the only soup I ever ate was Campbell’s. I loved Campbell’s Tomato, but all the other soups were too salty for me, and I avoided soup for years as a result. In fact, it’s really only been in the last ten years or so that I’ve become a soup girl.

I love soups that are stand alone meals. One of my favorites is Cooking Light’s Cheddar Chicken Chowder. Creamy with lots of corn and a bit of bacon, it’s a great two-night meal that Clifton and I both love. As I think about it, a lot of the dishes I make during the cold (or cold-ish months) come from Cooking Light. My mother-in-law gave me a subscription every year until she died, and I have binders filled with the recipes I tore from its pages.

Now that Cooking Light has closed its doors (though I just learned as I was searching for recipes that it actually joined forces with Eating Well), the New York Times “Cooking” section is a place I scour for reliable meals. Some recent cool weather favorites have been Chicken Pot Pie, Baked Rice with Leeks, and Guinness Pie.

You already linked to another one of my favorites–Moosewood’s Black Bean soup, a recipe that you encouraged me to try, and I’m so glad I did. I love the cornmeal scones recipe that the authors suggest as a side, mostly because I love corn, I love bread, and I love stuff that crumbles (shortbread, for instance). Black beans and rice is another go-to cool weather meal for me. Honestly, I could eat beans and rice several times a week, but I’m not sure Clifton could (or would). I’d never even run into a black bean until 1986, when I had a hippie grad school housemate named Laura who always seemed to have a pot of black beans and rice on the stove. I thought it looked gross, so imagine my surprise when I ate some and fell in love!

(I went to grad school at UMass-Amherst, which was the first time I was introduced to hippie cuisine–beans and rice, hummus, tofu. And while pasta salad is not a hippie invention, Amherst is the first place I ate pasta salad dressed in a vinaigrette (as opposed to mayo). My mother was a good cook, but hers was the menu of the midcentury housewife. Chipped Corn Beef on Toast, Meatloaf, hot dogs and tater tots. Black beans and rice and hummus were revelations to me.)

Other go-to meals that come back into rotation during the fall: Carnitas, Spaghetti Pie, Beef Stew, Meatloaf (just like Mom made–and yes, I use Lipton Onion Soup mix to season it!).

October is the month that I also start roasting sweet potatoes and butternut squash and a bunch of other veg. Goodbye tomatoes, hello rutabagas! Okay, I’m joking about the rutabagas. But maybe a little pumpkin ravioli? MMMMmmmm!

Okay, readers, give us some good ideas for what else to cook in the coming months!


  • Robin Leftwich

    I’ve been baking lately, especially recipes with pumpkin. Pumpkin pie bars from theNew York Times recipe just got eaten! I also love the Beef Stew recipe from Ina Garten, and I have a Best Brisket recipe from Tyler ( forgot the last name but he’s famous!) that I need to cook. And anything with lentils for my son. My problem is dealing with leftovers, because my husband hates them. I freeze what I can, but usually end up eating most of them. But it’s definitely fall-ish here, with wonderful cool nights, and I am cooking more!

  • Laurie

    We have a bi-weekly produce subscription that has forced me to try new foods, so this week I roasted root vegetables, ham and mushrooms in my Ninja air crisper. We just ate leftovers for lunch and my husband said he was surprised that he really liked “just” vegetables. I think I could eat “just” vegetables every day if someone else would cut them up for me!!
    Thanks for the soup ideas. I love anything I can put in a crockpot or on the stove and eat for a couple of days. Ooh, and with my produce subscription I can order yummy bread from a bakery contributor.

  • Audrey

    It’s the season of soup. Chili, southwest chicken and ham and bean are three that are always on hand in the freezer. Whip up some cornbread or I’ve been making sourdough for a little over year and we’ve got a delicious meal. I also seem to roast a lot of veggies at this time of the year too. Butternut squash from the garden has been popular here the last couple of weeks and acorn squash stuffed with brown rice, dried cranberries (or craisins), pork sausage and spinach. So, so good. Apples, apples, apples-baked, in crisp, in pie, in cakes, made into apple butter and applesauce. Yum!

    Thanks for the soup ideas, all sounds yummy.

  • Tracie

    I ordered a new cookbook to kickstart a tastier fall and winter repertoire: Betty Crocker Indian Home Cooking (2012 edition). A friend of mine worked for Betty Crocker and recommended the book a few years ago. I’m a picky eater; however, I love Indian cuisine! Now I’m looking forward to samosas, vindaloo, and biryani. If I fail, I’ll go back to the Trader Joe’s frozen meals.

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