Fall Dinner Staples

What are your go-to autumn dinner recipes? A few years ago, I started keeping a list of dishes I turn to for dinner during the fall and winter: the one-pot, filling meals that are cozy and comforting and suit the season. This year, since our whole family schedule is changing with our oldest child in school for the first time, having a roster of easy meals is even more important. 

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Teaching your kids and yourself how to cook a few simple ‘recipes by heart’, whether it be a tossed salad, a quick tomato sauce, or a pot of soup, will set them up for a lifetime of confident cooking and good eating no matter where in the world they end up.
— Laurie David, The Family Cooks
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It's time to update my list, though, because pizza appears to be missing. Which is a shame, because it's a perfect staple. You can make the dough ahead of time and freeze it, and do the same with a batch of pizza sauce. 

Pizza + kids in the kitchen = natural combo

Pizza + kids in the kitchen = natural combo

I'm going to freeze this sauce and give it many roles in the coming months: pasta sauce, bruschetta topping, dip, etc.....

I'm going to freeze this sauce and give it many roles in the coming months: pasta sauce, bruschetta topping, dip, etc.....

Another dish I'll be adding to that list is Black Bean Soup. I've been making this dish since before my vegan days, which is at least 15 years. It's composed almost entirely of pantry and fridge staples: canned black beans, chicken (or vegetable) stock, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, sweet pepper. Cumin, thyme, salt, and lime juice round it out. 

Ingredients prep.

Ingredients prep.

Serving the finished soup (pureed) with vegetable fried rice and garlic cheese toasts. Salsa and plain yogurt are for topping the soup. Cash appears to be singing for his supper.

Serving the finished soup (pureed) with vegetable fried rice and garlic cheese toasts. Salsa and plain yogurt are for topping the soup. Cash appears to be singing for his supper.

So as you settle into the fall routine with your family, try making a list of staple meals for the new season. It's comforting when planning the week to have a list like this at the ready. The dishes on my list involve simple, quick tasks that young kids can help with (grating cheese, topping pizza, sampling black beans, picking thyme leaves, soaking rice noodles, etc etc...) For more fall dinner inspiration, have a look at these schoolnight-friendly dinners. I've made both the pasta with chickpeas and the skillet lasagna multiple times with excellent results. 

Black Bean Soup for Fall

This is great with biscuits, garlic toasts with cheese, or just some great fresh bread with butter.

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Olive oil for the pot
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 sweet pepper (red or orange), diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tsp cumin seed, ground
1 Tb fresh thyme
3/4 tsp salt
2 15-oz cans black beans
1 L chicken or vegetable stock, homemade or store-bought
juice from 1 lime
yogurt, sour cream or salsa, for topping soup

Heat oil in pot, and saute all the vegetables together until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the ground cumin, thyme and salt. Add the black beans and stock, bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes, until the soup has thickened slightly. Puree in a couple batches, and return to pot. Taste for salt. Simmer uncovered for another 15 minutes, and stir in lime juice. Top with suggested toppings and enjoy, ideally with children at the dinner table!