Cooking from summer to fall: Seared steak sandwich, butternut squash soup

Labor Day weekend is here, which marks the end of warm summer days and the start of fall crisp nights. Both seasons feature wonderful flavors and produce — seen in these recipes from Colin Bedford, executive chef at The Fearrington House Restaurant in North Carolina. It's a classic sandwich and soup combo: Seared steak sandwich with heirloom tomatoes, basil, sweet corn mayo and roasted butternut squash soup with maple syrup, cinnamon and pumpkin seed whipped cream.

Seared steak sandwich with heriloom tomatoes, basil and sweet corn mayo

  • 4-5 oz strip loin steak
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup roasted corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped 
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped herbs (such as parsley, chives, basil, tarragon)
  • 4 1-inch slices Challah bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter, plus extra for spreading
  • 3-4 heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 4 oz Parmesan cheese

Bring steak to room temperature before searing (this will help with even and consistent cooking). Season steak with salt and pepper. Sear on high heat 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare (use a cast iron pan to give the steak good caramelization). Let steak rest 10 minutes, then slice.

Combine the mayonnaise in a bowl with the corn and fresh basil. Stir and season with salt and pepper. 

In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta with the mixed herbs. 

Spread each slice of challah bread with butter, toast in pan until golden brown. Spread extra butter on the bread. Spread some ricotta on each slice of bread. Add some of the corn basil mayo, sliced tomato, then slices of steak. Top with arugula and shaved Parmesan. 

Roasted butternut squash soup with maple syrup, cinnamon and pumpkin seed whipped cream
Makes 8-10 servings

  • 2 butternut squash (approx. 3lbs)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoons sage, chopped
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream (whipped)
  • 1/4 cup toasted salted pumpkin seeds
  • Salt & Pepper

Cut the squash lengthwise and discard the seeds. Place on a baking sheet. Pour the maple syrup over the squash and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the baking sheet with foil. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes, until tender with a fork.  

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat, then sauté the onion, celery and garlic. Add a few pinches of salt, then add cinnamon sticks and chopped sage, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer until the mixture starts to smell sweet vs. acidic (3-4 minutes). 

Scoop out squash from its skin and add to the Dutch oven. Then add vegetable stock and coconut milk. Simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Remove the cinnamon sticks. Puree the soup in a food processor. Fold toasted pumpkin seeds into whipped cream, and then spoon onto each soup serving.  

Note: Add liquid from pot slowly when blending to make sure the puree isn't too thin. Remember that you can always add more, but you can't remove.

Optional toppings: Cornbread croutons, drizzle of olive oil