When fall weather has us hankering for a bowl of warmth, we tend to think of chili and beef stew.

The trouble with both of those delicious options is time. The best versions of each tend to require long simmers to really develop the great and comforting flavors we’re looking for. That’s fine for a weekend spent in the apple orchard, but hard to squeeze in during the week when kids and errands are competing for our time at the stove.

And that was the inspiration for this delicious seafood stew. It is every bit as rich and flavorful as a good chili or meat-based stew, but cooks up in no time. Unlike beef, which needs a long, low simmer to become tender, seafood prefers to be cooked quickly (otherwise it can toughen up).

There aren’t a whole lot of rules for a recipe such as this. Add or subtract ingredients as you see fit. But do cook the seasonings with the oil and onion first, as described in the recipe. This helps them quickly develop the sort of deep flavors you’d normally get from a much longer cooking time.

And don’t be put off by the “spicy” in the recipe title. The heat is mild and is there mostly to highlight the other flavors in the dish.

Spicy Shrimp and

Haddock Stew

Start to finish: 50 minutes

(15 minutes active)

Servings: 8

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 russet potatoes, diced

1 large yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed (use the back of a spoon)

2 stalks celery, chopped

15-ounce can diced tomatoes

8-ounce bottle clam juice

2 cups water

1 pound raw, shelled extra-large shrimp

1 pound haddock (or other mild white fish, such as cod or whiting), cut into small chunks

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and ground black pepper

In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the olive oil. Add the potatoes, onion, garlic, thyme, paprika, red pepper flakes and fennel seeds. Cook, stirring until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the celery, tomatoes (and any juice in the can), clam juice and water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Add the shrimp and haddock and increase the heat slightly to maintain a simmer. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or just until the shrimp are pink and the haddock flakes easily. Stir in the parsley, dill and lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition information per serving: 210 calories; 45 calories from fat (21 percent of total calories); 5 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 120 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 24 g protein; 570 mg sodium.

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

Ingredients (serves 4)

6 slices of prosciutto

11/2-2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into

half-inch pieces (about 4 cups)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Sea salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 carrot, chopped

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 medium apple (preferably tart Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and chopped

2 cups chicken/veggie broth or stock

21/2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh pepper, to taste

For Prosciutto Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Carefully lay six slices prosciutto on a parchment lined baking sheet. When preheated, cook prosciutto for approximately 15 minutes. Drain prosciutto on paper towel (it will crisp as it cools). Set aside.

For Butternut Squash

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Raise oven temperature to

450 degrees. Toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Spread onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, 25-30 minutes.

For Soup

In a soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic, cooking until soft but not brown, about 8 minutes (cover if browning too fast in order to help carrots soften). Add cinnamon and nutmeg and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add butternut squash, apple, salt, pepper, broth/stock, and water and bring to a simmer. Stir while simmering until apple is tender, 15-20 minutes.

Puree in batches or use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Serve topped with prosciutto chips and sour cream, if desired.

— Lee News Service

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

with Bacon and Thyme

Start to finish: 11/2 hours

(30 minutes active)

Servings: 8

2 heads cauliflower

(about 41/2 pounds total)

1/4 cup olive oil

Kosher salt

1 quart chicken broth (or more for a thinner soup), divided

1 pint half-and-half

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus 8 sprigs to garnish

Pinch of white pepper

10 slices applewood smoked bacon (or 3 slices country ham), minced and cooked

Heat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with cooking parchment, or with foil lightly misted with cooking spray.

Use a paring knife to carefully cut out and discard the core of each head of cauliflower, then cut the heads into large florets. Place the florets in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons of salt, tossing to coat.

Arrange the florets in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, then use tongs to flip the florets, then roast for another 30 minutes, or until the florets are deeply caramelized and golden.

Transfer the florets to a blender and add 2 cups of the broth. Puree, then add the half-and-half and puree for another 3 minutes, or until completely smooth. The puree should be very thick. With the blender running, add the remaining broth, the thyme and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

The soup can be transferred to a saucepan and gently heated, or refrigerated overnight before reheating and serving.

The flavor is best when it is allowed to rest overnight. When ready to serve, garnish each bowl with a bit of cooked bacon and a sprig of fresh thyme.

— Associated Press

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