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Hearty soup can set the tone for fall

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September is finally here after a very strange summer. Although, I’m skeptical of fall being less strange. The football teams are oddly not on the field and I’m not hearing the high school bands practicing for their halftime shows.

Stores are slowly coming back to life. Shoppers are trying to stay 6 feet apart and I still don’t know if it’s rude to hold open a door for another customer.

One thing that hasn’t changed is harvesting and hurricanes. I’m hoping for a big harvest but would love to skip any hurricanes blowing around in the Atlantic Ocean.

My first month in Spring Hope has been full of surprises — some pleasant and some not as pleasant.

My daughter and I enjoy having lunch outings to get away from our screens a few times a week. People in the Little General Store and at Scavengers are starting to recognize us — a very pleasant surprise. We found some volunteer opportunities to help on the city planning committee and at the Faith Christian Ministries Thrift Store — another excellent surprise.

Feeling like I’m in the old show “Green Acres” because my “city living” hasn’t prepared me for nature is not near as pleasant. I had no idea that I would be battling the wildlife for my garden bounty. The deer that wander in my yard like things spicy — they ate all the leaves off my jalapeno pepper plant and took a bite out of every pepper on the stems. Rabbits are loving the greens I’m growing; they show up like it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet.

One thing that isn’t getting any attention from my outside “friends” are the onions. I don’t even like onions but they are so easy to grow! Somehow that half onion I stick in a plastic baggie in my fridge grows and grows. I plop it in the dirt and just like a zombie rising from the grave, that onion regenerates and takes on new life.

So, I thought I’d share a hearty fall soup that uses the onions that I have. It’s a meatless dish, but my carnivore family loves the fall flavors with hints of cinnamon and apples. Try it once and it may become a family favorite and your house, too!

This soup is perfect for those growing butternut squashes this season. Of course, the farmers market has beautiful squash, too.

DeeAnn Rivera is a Spring Hope resident who blogs atVictoryGardenGal.com.

Butternut Squash Soup

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Prep time: 20 minutes.

Ingredients

• 1 medium butternut squash (about 3-4 lbs.), peeled, seeded and diced

• 2 cups vegetable stock

• 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

• 1 sweet apple, peeled, cored and chopped

• 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped (sometimes I just use half — it still tastes good)

1/2 can unsweetened coconut milk

• 1 sprig of fresh sage

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne

• 1 pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg

• Optional: garnish with more coconut milk, smoked paprika or honey.

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients, except coconut milk, in a large stockpot.

2. Cook soup until it simmers, then reduce heat and cover for 20-30 minutes. (It’ll be ready once the vegetables can be mashed by a fork).

3. Remove and discard the twig of sage. Then, stir in the coconut milk.

4. Blend in a blender or food processor. Make sure you do this in batches and the soup has cooled.

5. Taste, season and enjoy!

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