Pros dish on hearty fall flavors to savor by the spoonful

By: Sherri Kolade | C&G Newspapers | Published October 17, 2018

 Robert Hindley, a chef at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, stirs some butternut squash soup Oct. 8. Hearty soups are perfect for crisper fall weather.

Robert Hindley, a chef at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, stirs some butternut squash soup Oct. 8. Hearty soups are perfect for crisper fall weather.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 The ingredients in butternut squash soup can be sweet and savory.

The ingredients in butternut squash soup can be sweet and savory.

Photo by Deb Jacques

METRO DETROIT — When Sarah Yi thinks of fall, family and flavors readily come to mind, along with robust soups at her family gatherings. In particular, kimchi jjigae, a Korean soup that brings back the memories.

“It makes me feel a lot of warmth — like a lot of family time,” she said. “That is what the fall would mean to me … winding down summer, getting ready for the winter, and just enjoying the fall weather.”

Yi added that having grown up in a Korean household, that soup is “very common” around the table.

Reddish in color, the soup is similar to the deep, vibrant fall leaves, she added.

Yi, the owner of Jinji Korean Cuisine & Soju Bar in Southfield, said at her bustling restaurant Oct. 9 that she wants others to pull up a seat and experience the unique flavors of Korean dishes and soups.

“There are so many good soups here,” she said.

Kimchi jjigae is comprised of kimchi (a fermented cabbage), pork belly, rice cakes and scallions.

“It is a very … spicy stew. I would say it is the perfect fall soup because it is getting a little bit chilly and it will warm you up right,” she said, adding that the popular staple is also a little tart.

When fall brings out cooler weather and, seemingly, pumpkin-spice-flavored everything, Rob Hindley, a sous chef at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, said that butternut squash soup might as well be a seasonal harbinger, too.

Hindley, who also teaches cooking classes at the hospital’s Henry Ford Demonstration Kitchen, said that that particular soup is his fall favorite.

“There are a lot of different ways you can tweak it to make it your own,” he said.

Sour cream and butter, or healthier options with vegetable stock and onion? You decide and “let the squash speak for itself.”

When Hindley started making butternut squash soup, he used to use chicken stock and honey or brown sugar in it.

“My palate has changed,” he said, adding that he is “on a mission” to prepare healthier foods.

Most recently, the butternut squash he made at home had honey in it.

“I have kids — they like it a little bit sweeter, and I did candied pecans too.”

The healthier alternative could also have onion, nutmeg and cinnamon in it.

“That’s it. Don’t hit it real hard with other spices or flavors,” Hindley said, adding that some people would put in a lot more cayenne pepper as a finish. “(It’s) easy to overdo. … A little bit goes a long way.”

Cinda Coon, owner of The Lunch Café in Berkley, likes her butternut squash soup, too, with a few other fall flavors that keep her customers coming back after 12 years in business.

“There is a lot of people that like my butternut squash; it has sweet potatoes, apple, potato, and then it is all pureed so it is absolutely delicious.”

Coon makes all of her own soups — she has about 85 of them — and she does two soups daily (a vegetarian soup and a meat-based soup) and has 12 different soups on weekly rotation.

She recently served up a butternut squash soup and a chili soup.

“Our chili is every Monday, and … butternut squash is our fall soup,” Coon said, adding that she doesn’t use heavy creamers or anything. “I try to keep them as healthy as possible, and we’re really known for our dill pickle soup. I have one set couple come in every time we have dill pickle soup.”

She added that her soups are made year-round, but some prefer her fall favorites like hearty chicken noodle soup with fresh parsley, and her creamy tomato (with homegrown basil), and diced tomatoes and onions and garlic. Coon said that the chicken noodle soup is a must for customers who are sick.

“Anybody that got a cold, or whatever, they come in — I have a few regular customers that ask for chicken broth.”

She said to stick with the seasonal produce when making fall soups.

“I kind of go with what is in season at this time,” she said.

Hindley keeps it simple, too, with fall vegetable soups.

“Whatever you have in your refrigerator or picked up at the farmers market, root vegetables grow really well into the fall,” he said of turnips, parsnips, carrots and more.

Hindley added that a pureed carrot ginger soup is also a great fall soup.

And instead of using whipping cream, sour cream or yogurt with this dish, add some dry oatmeal.

“Once you puree it, it sort of takes on that texture,” he said, adding that steel-cut oats won’t cut it, and they don’t have to be quick-cooking ones.

Hindley explained that during the fall, the demonstration kitchen will incorporate more grains because people will want something “a little more hearty.”

Cooked barley, quinoa or rice will fit in nicely, he said.

“Something that you would have to give it another texture and a little bit of protein,” he said.

Courtney Chase, who works at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library Westacres Branch, said that one of her co-workers told her about a lasagna soup, which she has kept in her roster for about 10 months.

“We often share recipes with another,” she said, adding that she loves “normal lasagna.” “All lasagna lovers will fall in love with it.”

Chase said that the “delicious” soup is perfect for cold fall days.

The soup takes about 30 minutes to cook and includes 8 ounces of lasagna noodles, broken into smaller pieces; other traditional lasagna ingredients; along with chicken broth, and heavy cream and cheese for garnish.

Chase said that her mother and sister are not huge fans of pasta, but they fell in love with the soup.

“My sister liked the flavor and the amount of noodle was not too overwhelming, and that there were so many ways to make it unique and many choices for garnish,” she said. “Out of any soup I have made, this is one of my favorites.”

For more information on the demonstration kitchen, including a full schedule of upcoming classes, go to

For more information on Jinji Korean Cuisine & Soju Bar, go to

For more information on The Lunch Café, go to

Butternut squash soup

• 3 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
• 1/2 cup onions, diced
• 1 cup Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• 4 cups vegetable stock
• 2 Tbsp. honey
• 1/4 cup skim milk
• 1 pinch cayenne pepper
• 1 pinch nutmeg
• 1 pinch cinnamon
• Salt and pepper, to taste


• In a medium saucepan, sweat onions for 10 minutes with olive oil.
• Add squash, apples, spices and stock.
• Reduce heat and simmer, 20-25 minutes.
• Puree in food processor or blender.
• Adjust seasoning to taste.
• Stir in skim milk, if desired.
• Garnish with candied pecans (optional).