My most cherished season is upon us. Cheers.
The perfect compliment to hard cider, wool socks, and a wood fire:
- 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
- 2 tsp. kosher salt or 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 medium onions, halved, sliced, and broken into thin slivers
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 14-oz. can beef broth
- 1-1/2 cups apple cider
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 6 or 7 miniature white and/or orange pumpkins, or half a 5-lb. pie pumpkin, or 2 lb. potatoes
- 2 medium parsnips or carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, or 8 oz. baby carrots with tops, scrubbed and trimmed
- 2 Jonathan or Gala apples, cored and cut into wedges
- Fennel Seeds (optional)
In a self-sealing plastic bag combine flour, the 2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Add beef chunks. Close bag; shake to coat. In a Dutch oven brown half the beef and half the onion at a time in 1 tablespoon of hot oil. Return all meat and onion to Dutch oven. Add broth, cider, and vinegar. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1-1/4 hours.
Meanwhile, if using miniature pumpkins, cut a 1/2-inch slice from the bottom of each; discard slice. Scoop out seeds and fibrous strings. If using pie pumpkin, peel, seed, remove strings, and cut into large chunks. If using potatoes, peel and cut into wedges.
Add pumpkin pieces or potatoes,and parsnips or carrots to beef mixture. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes more. Add apples; cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes more or until vegetables and fruit are tender. Ladle into bowls or pumpkin bowls* to serve. Sprinkle with additional fennel seeds. Makes 8 servings
To Make Pumpkin Bowl: For each pumpkin bowl, cut a 1-inch slice from the stem end of a 1-1/2 to 2-lb. pumpkin; set aside stem. Scoop out seeds and fibrous strings. Ladle soup in bowl; replace stem. Or, if desired, place hollowed pumpkin with top in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 350 degrees F. oven for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until tender. Season inside of pumpkin with salt. Serve as above.