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Fall flavors and easy recipes

October 22, 2008|Susan LaTempa | LaTempa is a Times staff writer.

You can't judge a cookbook by its cover photo, and "Autumn Gatherings," a new cookbook by Rick Rodgers, is a case in point. The roasted turkey depicted there looks appetizing enough but makes it seem as if this is a Thanksgiving-centric book. In fact, this compact, 164-page collection is the second in a series devoted to seasonal recipes -- a focus that might sound like someone's trying to jump on the trend wagon but turns out to be exceptionally reader- and cook-friendly.

Feeling a little autumny? Ready for some stew or soup or gratins? Wondering what to do with quinces, cardoons, butternut squash, chestnuts or pumpkin? You don't have to hunt through 10 of your favorite cookbooks; instead grab Rodgers' and go to it. The appealing recipes (celery root and red pepper slaw, polenta "pizza" with wild mushrooms, pork pot roast with dried figs and herbs) combine easily into menus; there are handy head notes and cooking tips throughout. The soup recipe we tried in the Times test kitchen worked perfectly. It's mellow and garlicky and gives you that healthfulness-in-a-mug happiness so welcome at any time of year.



Broccoli and roasted garlic soup

Total time: 1 hour, plus 45 minutes roasting time for the garlic

Servings: 6 to 8

Note: Adapted from "Autumn Gatherings: Casual Food to Enjoy With Family and Friends" by Rick Rodgers. He notes, "Roasted garlic is a great thing to have in the refrigerator, ready to perk up your everyday cooking. I often take a few seconds to prepare a couple of heads and toss them in the oven when I am roasting something else. One autumn Saturday, when I wanted a warming soup after gardening, I made this soup from what was on hand, and now it's a staple."

1 large, plump head of garlic

Olive oil, for drizzling


Freshly ground black pepper

1 large bunch broccoli, about 1 3/4 pounds

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. To roast the garlic, cut off the top one-half inch of the garlic head to make a "lid." Drizzle the cut surfaces with a little olive oil and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Replace the lid. Wrap the garlic in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until the garlic is tender and a rich golden color, about 45 minutes. Unwrap and cool. The garlic can now be used for the soup, or wrapped in plastic and refrigerated until ready to use, up to 1 week.

2. Meanwhile, cut the florets from the broccoli stalks. Coarsely chop the florets, then peel and coarsely chop the stalks.

3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the onion and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped broccoli and potato.

4. Add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pot. Simmer until the potato is very tender, about 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, squeeze the roasted garlic into the pot, discarding the hulls. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Puree the soup in batches using a blender, or in the pot using an immersion blender. Serve hot. This makes about 2 1/2 quarts soup.

Each of 8 servings: 132 calories; 5 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 5 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 8 mg. cholesterol; 334 mg. sodium.

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