My neighbor’s dog is barking. And barking, and barking, and barking. I’m supposed to be figuring out what to write for this week’s blog post, but all I can think about is how much I wish that dog would quiet down. I think the dog owners are often not home, and the dog can exit the house through the doggie door and bark for all of infinity in the yard. I also think that the owners believe that by allowing the dog to bark, they have a security system for their home.
So basically, these neighbors are turning me into a crabby old lady. See, it’s not just the dog that bugs me. Shortly after the neighbors moved in, they managed to kill all the grass in the yard. About a year later, the beautiful apricot tree in front of the house died. (Probably because of a deep freeze) They have band practice once a week or so, ‘til too late for my tired ears; and lots of lawn furniture that just stays out in the front yard; and loud parties until all hours of the night. And now I’m one of those ladies who complains about the young whippersnappers living across the street!
But — deep, cleansing breath — now it is Fall. The weather is getting cooler, the trees are just beginning to change, and the days are growing shorter. For most folks, Autumn means a shift in the kitchen too. It is time for soups and breads, warming and hearty meals. To celebrate, I made a roasted butternut squash soup with chipotle. Fat-free sour cream kept the soup light but gave it a nice rich flavor, and the chipotle added a lovely warming bite. Served with a rustic bread, it was the perfect dish on a chilly night.
But making soups isn’t the only reason I love fall. In our house, fall means that it is finally cool enough to CLOSE THE WINDOWS!! Band practice becomes far less audible, the yip yap of the dog sounds further away, the parties are muffled. The darkness falls over the neighbors’ yard, concealing the lawn furniture. Really, I should be jealous, they’re having a lot of fun over there. The truth is, my neighbors are not bad people, they just choose to live differently than I do. They have a different kind of spirit than I do. Every time I hear the band practicing and the dog barking I need to remember that- they’re happy living their lives, and I’m happy living mine. The tired, crabby old lady inside of me can shut the window, breathe a sigh of relief, and shuffle back to the kitchen to make more soups.
1 medium butternut squash, roasted
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, diced
4 red potatoes, diced
6 cups water or vegetable broth
1 cup fat free sour cream
½ tablespoon chipotle powder
salt, pepper, fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 375˚. Slice the top and bottom off of the squash, then slice the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Brush the cut sides of the squash with oil and place, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes or until squash is soft. Remove from oven and cool. Once cooled, scoop out the squash from the skin and discard skins.
Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook for about 5 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, squash and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes and carrots are soft. Using a blender or food processor, puree soup in batches until smooth. Return to the pot over low heat and whisk in the sour cream and chipotle. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme.