HEY! IT’S FALL.
Have you heard?
If you haven’t, then it’s safe to assume you’ve been living under a rock.
It always happens like this. I wake up one day, and summer is gone. Like, totally, completely gone. A distant memory. Almost as if it never existed in the first place.
Landscapes once full of sunflowers, lilies and hydrangeas have suddenly transformed into displays of mums, gourds and corn stalks. Draught beer selections have switched from seasonal summer ales to Oktoberfest brews. Days are noticeably shorter. There’s a little nip in the air. Pumpkin spice everything seems to be taking over the planet.
People seem more eager to transition into fall than any other season, and I’m always the one over here trying to fight it. A slow progression into autumn is really much more my style.
You see, I like fall. I really do! But its arrival always comes right when I’m mourning the loss of summer. Sadly due to the facts of life, that’s never going to change.
I’ve just always been more of a summertime gal. I prefer salads and slaws over soups and stews; sun dresses and bikinis over sweaters and boots. I’ll take a 4th of July beach BBQ over a Halloween costume party ANY DAY. I don’t care much for football, even though I pretend to like LSU games. And the end of tomato season? Let’s not even go there.
Summer is easy breezy, but fall always requires effort. Back to school. Raking leaves. Dressing in layers. Prepping for the holidays. You feel me?
Maybe I’m just lazy.
But I can’t deny the inevitable pleasures of autumn. The beauty in the changing foliage, the coziness of chilly nights cuddled under blankets, hot toddies and apple cider. Sweatpants and hoodies. Fall fests.
I got to kick off the first weekend of fall in Connecticut with one of my favorite people, the lovely miss Emma Frisch. She and I teamed up for a cooking demo at the Greenwich Food and Wine Festival, and boy was it a hoot.
Our demo was centered around how to use a pumpkin from the inside out. We showed two ways of making a pumpkin puree and each made different dishes using it. The methods for making the puree, along with Emma’s pumpkin harvest crostini can be found over at her blog Frisch Kitchen.
I made a spicy pumpkin soup, finished with a little coastal love in the form of a corn and crab relish. It’s like a bowl of fall with a little dollop of summer on top. Perfect since corn season and pumpkin season are currently overlapping.
There’s no need to rush things. We’ve got until December 21st to revel in all things autumn, so let’s give summer some respect and send her off with a gentle farewell.
Until that first frost comes, I’ll still be over here eating all of the tomatoes. And probably this soup, too.
Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Corn and Crab Relish
Makes 6-8 servings.
The great thing about this soup is that it can be made from just about any winter squash variety you can find. Butternut, acorn, kabocha, calabaza, hubbard, delicata, etc. would all work well here. If you leave out the crab meat, this recipe is totally vegan, and perfect for a simple weeknight supper.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tsp ground coriander seed
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 whole pumpkin or hard winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
5 cups water
1 can well-stirred unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon salt
Pinch of sugar, to taste
3 ears corn, cooked and removed from the cob (use the method found here!)
1 cup jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
1 teaspoon minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Salt to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
To make the soup, heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook with a pinch of salt until translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add the cilantro and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the coriander and cayenne and saute for 30 seconds. Add the squash and cook, stirring occasionally for another minute. Cover with the water and coconut milk, then season with salt and sugar to taste. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 20-25 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until totally smooth.
To make the relish, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and gently toss, being careful not to break up the lumps of crab meat.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top each with one heaping spoonful of corn and crab relish. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.
*To prepare this soup using pumpkin puree, substitute the raw cubed pumpkin for 4 cups of puree. Reduce cooking time by 15 minutes, and follow all other directions accordingly.