I love how the leaves turn to fire in autumn.
I start a foliage watch in late August, mostly as I’m driving on the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut (one of the country’s really beautiful roads). The green is washed out by then and the leaves look bleached. And then, slowly, they yellow a bit and you see a few flashes of red and orange here and there. Like they’re on fire.
By early October, at least where I live, the blush is so beautiful I understand why people travel from afar to see it. In southwestern Connecticut, peak will be around October 15th. I look forward to that time every year.
It’s a new season. Beginnings are always full of surprises and mystery. It makes life interesting, don’t you think?
New seasons mean a switch in food too. No more of the light salads and cold soups we needed for refreshment during the hot days of summer.
Now it’s warmth we want. Like this soup. A perfect dish for the cool weather. Good for company dinners too. Delicious with or without the honey-croutons.
Squash Soup with Honey Croutons
2 pounds butternut squash
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 serrano or other small, hot chili pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
5 cups vegetable stock
2-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken in half
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup half and half cream or cream substitute
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half, scoop the seeds and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast for 45-60 minutes or until tender. Scoop the flesh into a bowl and set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, chili pepper, parsley and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes to soften them slightly. Add the squash, stock, cinnamon stick pieces, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon. Puree the soup in a blender or with a hand blender. Return the puree to the pan. Stir in the cream, blend thoroughly and heat through. Makes 6-8 servings
3 dozen 1/2-inch bread cubes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter or margarine
1 tablespoon honey
salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the bread cubes with the vegetable oil, melted butter or margarine, the honey and salt to taste. Toss the ingredients to coat the bread with the honey mixture. Place the croutons on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.