I love this time of year.
If, like me, you’re a temperate climate sort of girl, then autumn is everything you could ask for. The days are still warm but the sun isn’t sledgehammering you into the ground; mornings and evenings are cool and fresh and perfect for walking the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.
I have to admit that Molly is not a morning dog, and some days I end up having to tip her out of bed to get her up to make it to the park for her morning constitutional. Teenagers, eh? Lazy slug-a-beds.
The trees in our local park (a plot of land Molly regards as her own and that she guards fiercely against invading squirrels) are just starting to turn yellow. Another few weeks and they’ll be that glorious russet red that my hair never quite achieved, even with the help of henna. Conkers are everywhere in the park this year—a bumper crop, if only children these days knew what to do with them—and walking under the trees poses a real risk of your being bonked on the head by acorns hurling themselves enthusiastically ground-ward. I have started my usual collection of conkers and acorns to fill bowls in the house. There’s an old 1920’s teacup full of shiny brown conkers and one sprig of turkey oak leaves with its acorn still attached, right beside the computer to remind me of autumn every time I lift my head.
I marked the change of seasons tonight with my first vat of spicy squash soup. It’s a staple of my diet from the first days of autumn through to the first days of spring. Nothing says the year’s turning its face towards its close louder than sitting with my feet up, sipping on a big mug of bright orange soup while watching Eggheads on the telly.
I’m very rarely domesticated. But here’s the recipe, so you too can have a bowl of spicy autumn-ness.
Peel and roughly chop the onion.
Peel the pumpkin or squash, taking out the nasty stringy bits and seeds. Chop into rough cubes. Any bits that fall on the floor are fair game and Molly will eat them. She’s a gannet, that dog, and adores crunchy vegetables.
Toast the coriander seeds and cumin in a small pan over a low heat for about two minutes. Grind using a pestle and mortar – it’s good exercise and the kitchen smells divine.
Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan and cook the onion until soft and translucent. Add the pumpkin/squash cubes and spices and let them brown for a minute or two, but there’s a lot of pumpkin/squash and very little butter and honest, I often don’t worry about it browning and just toss in the stock.
So. Add the stock. Simmer for 20 minutes or so until the pumpkin/squash is tender. Blitz and whizz with a blender until it’s smooth. Check the seasoning.
Serve piping hot. If you’re feeling devilish, you could swirl some single cream through it and scatter crispy-fried bacon bits on top, but it’s almost as lovely without. Serves 4. At least.
Have a lovely autumn. Enjoy this very best part of the year.