Sunday, September 23, 2012

Autumnal Equinox

This week, I could definitely feel the seasons turn.  It seems like overnight, my tomato plants started to look past their prime, and there was a cold snap in the air that came upon us on Friday evening and hasn't yet left us.  We closed the windows and pondered putting on the furnace, but I hate to give the summer up yet.    The average fall frost date for my area is October 2, which means I should have a couple weeks left.    Sure, we are guaranteed a spell of Indian summer - I can remember kayaking in 80 degree heat last year in late October, but for now, it feels like fall for sure. 
According to Greek mythology/Druid/Pagan/Wiccan culture, on the autumnal equinox is a time of celebration.  I'm no expert in paganism, but the festival is called Mabon, and it is a time to recognize balance, since the earth is equally in darkness and in light on the equinox. 
Being a Catholic, I have always appreciated how the early church borrowed from the pagan calendar for it's feast days.   Thus, the feast of St. Michael (Michaelmas) became associated with the autumnal equinox.   According to the Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, Michaelmas is to be celebrated with eating a roast goose - in fact, it is said that Queen Elizabeth had learned of the defeat of the Spanish Armada while she was eating her Michaelmas goose.   In Scotland, the custom was to eat St. Michael's bannock, a buttermilk cake that looks interesting. I'll have to try making it some day. 
For me, I am celebrating the equinox by making curried cauliflower soup. I love making this soup this time of year - it's a beautiful chartreuse color and it has a spicy kick that lends well to the chill in the air.   Plus there's a ton of cauliflower at the farmer's market this time of year.   Enjoy! 

Curried Cauliflower Soup

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1 head cauliflower cut into florets
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 onions, sliced 1 inch thick
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
4 cups water
2 cups reduced-sodium canned chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 450°. On a baking sheet, toss cauliflower with vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Spread out, and roast until the florets turn brown, about 25 minutes.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in curry powder, cauliflower, water, and broth; cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover, lower heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 3 cups cauliflower to a bowl, and set aside. Put remaining florets into a blender or food processor, add 1 teaspoon salt, and process until smooth. Stir purée into broth in pan, and reheat if necessary. Ladle soup into bowls, and top with reserved florets and parsley.


Liza @provenceinannarbor said...

This sounds delicious. I'm definitely going to put this on the fall soup list.

Tricia said...

The soup sounds intriguing to me, but the cake would go over better at my house!