This morning, Google let me know that it was fall – with the second “g” and “l” in Google turned into gracefully falling red leaves. I felt a bit stunned, and a bit embarrassed that I had to rely on the computer to remind me of the changing season. Then again, unlike spring which teases and flirts for weeks before settling into place, fall has a way of sneaking up and surprising me – in the sudden smell of crisp leaves and crackling fires in the air, and in the way the high holidays suddenly appear on the calendar even though I already knew they were coming.
Sometimes this suddenness feels unsettling – as if I am Philippe Petit tiptoeing across a tight rope when suddenly the wind picks up. But because of this sudden energy, fall also has a way of sweeping me off my feet in a more metaphorical (and significantly more pleasant) way. There’s a certain rapture that rushes in, clearing the stagnant summer air and demanding that I pay attention and enjoy. I think I actually tend to feel most alive during the early weeks of fall. Knowing that winter is slowly lumbering near, I get all the more energized to actively soak up the last rays of warm sunshine, eat the last red tomatoes, and enjoy the last few days of sandal weather before I shroud my feet, once again, in socks and shoes.
I also feel a renewed urge to cook! And with a whole new palate of flavors to choose from at the farmers’ market, how can I resist? Below, find a recipe for Delicata Squash Soup with Apple Croutons – the perfect celebration of fall, and a lovely alternative to Rosh Hashanah chicken soup.
Leek & Delicata Squash Soupwith Caramelized Apple Croutons
This velvety soup pairs the gentle flavor of sauteed leeks with sweet, roasted squash. Topped with a dollop of sour cream and a few caramelized apple croutons, it embodies everything cozy about autumn.Serves 4
For the Soup:
2 1/2 pounds delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large leeks, white and tender green parts, chopped
1/2 teaspoons dried thyme.
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or “no chicken” broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
sour cream for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly and gently scrape or cut squash away from skin (delicata skin is edible, but not tasty in this dish). Set aside.
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add leeks and thyme and stir occasionally until soft and brown, 10-15 minutes. Stir in the stock and the squash and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Using an immersion hand blender, puree the soup directly in the pot until smooth. (Alternately, puree the soup in batches in a standard blender or food processor).
Season with salt and pepper & top with sour cream and caramelized apple croutons (see below)
For the Caramelized Apple Croutons
1 tart green apple of your choosing
1/4 cup light brown sugar
Peel and core apple and halve lengthwise. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut apple into very thin slices. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread one layer of apple slices on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake slices for 20 minutes at 350 degrees until crisp. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely.