In Nova Scotia it is the season that belongs to the trees – maple, birch, elm and oak are aglow with their changing foliage colors. Evolving over the course of two months, slowly at first, they transform from jade to pale gold as the weather remains mild and we are still able to enjoy the last of outdoor dinners. As the days grow cooler, the colors of the leaves intensify to shades of crimson and the daylight becomes an enchanting golden hue. The sky is a cloudless clear blue, bringing everything into sharp focus. Officially, fall starts when the sun crosses the celestial equator moving southward (on September 22nd or 23rd), known as the Autumnal Equinox, but for me fall hits like clockwork on the 1st September. It signals change. The days from then on grow shorter like they are on fast forward to reach winter; there is a chill in the air even though the days are sunny. Our cat Harry comes in again at night, preferring the warmth of indoors and our bed, as the nights start getting cold. The giant maple tree at our front door, tints everything in the house pink.
It is also squash season in Nova Scotia and their vibrant fall colors, in various sizes and shapes fill crates at farmers markets across the province. The array of squashes we get in this cold northern climate, from oblong orange acorns and striped delicatas to dark green hubbards, is hard to resist. This recipe is the perfect way to incorporate as many of them as you would like. Butternut soup would be found on almost every menu in an authentic South African restaurant. It is usually served curried, often spiced with cinnamon and cloves.
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups butternut, acorn squash, buttercup – peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1-teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
In a medium pot over a medium heat, sauté the onion in butter and olive oil until soft.
Add the butternut, acorn, buttercup squash and apple, stirring lightly and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add the curry powder, cumin, nutmeg, salt, pepper and pour in the chicken stock.
Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the squash is soft. Add the milk and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Using a hand blender, purée the vegetables.
Serve with crusty baguette