It’s that turn-of-the-season time when we somewhat reluctantly leave thoughts of summer behind, face the bracing fall weather and return to the kitchen to concoct warming, soul-satisfying soups and stews.


My husband, Richard, grills meat, smokes fish and game, makes a mean tuna sandwich for lunch, but he rarely cooks. Except, every now and then, he gets a yen to make soup. This hearty split pea soup – perfect for a chill fall day – has become his specialty.

Use a ham bone with some meat still clinging to it or buy smoked ham hocks and supplement with a bit of additional chopped ham from a ham steak or a thick slice from the deli. Corn bread or buttered rye toast and a simple salad of mixed greens will complete the meal.

Makes 4 to 5 main course servings.

1 pound dried split peas, rinsed


1 large meaty ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks plus 1 cup diced smoked ham

4 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 large onion, chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced

1 large celery stalk, chopped


2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1½ teaspoons dried

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

¼ cup dry sherry


Freshly ground black pepper


In a large soup pot, combine peas, ham bone or hock, broth, bay leaf and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until the peas are almost tender, about 1 hour.

Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and parsley. Cook uncovered over medium heat until split peas and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove ham bone or hock and strip off the meat. Discard bone and fat. Chop ham and return it to the soup. (If using the additional chopped ham, add it now.) Discard the bay leaf. You can add sherry and seasonings and serve the soup now, but I prefer to puree it as follows.

In a food processor or using an immersion blender, process the soup, pulsing to make a textured, not completely smooth, puree.

Return to the pot and add sherry and salt and pepper to taste. Adjust liquid as necessary, boiling down to make it thicker, adding broth or water to thin.

This soup gets better with time, so it’s ideal to make ahead and reheat over low heat before serving.


Apple-Butternut Bisque

Coconut milk is the secret here, adding some richness and its slight sweetness to this lightly curried and beautiful-to-look-at, smooth and creamy bisque. A squeeze of lime finishes it with a sprightly flourish. Serve with sourdough toasts and an arugula salad.

Makes 2 to 3 main course servings.

2 to 2½ pounds butternut squash, or other meaty winter squash such as Kabocha or Hubbard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons butter


1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 apple, any type, cored and cut in quarters

1 can (14½ ounces) chicken or vegetable broth


1 can (14½ ounces) lite coconut milk

Half a lime

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Season with salt and pepper and place cut sides down in a large roasting pan and pour a little water around squash.

Cover with foil and roast until tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Scrape squash pulp out of the skins.

In a large pot, heat the butter. Add onion and carrot and cook over medium heat until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.


Add curry powder and ginger, and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add apple and broth and cook until apple is soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in cooked squash.

In a food processor or using an immersion blender, process the mixture to make a smooth puree.

Return to the pot and whisk in coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes to blend flavors. Squeeze in lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

The soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen. Reheat before serving.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula and can be contacted via Facebook at:

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