I believe that September 1 should be the beginning of the autumn season. Autumn has always been the most enchanting season to me and the one that provides the best DIY activities indoor and outdoor. You can cook fabulous meals too with the abundance of fruits and vegetables. There is no doubt as to why so many cultures celebrate the harvest season.
However, we sadly do not celebrate autumn as we should in France. We do not have many maple trees either (sigh), which is a real pity even though more and more people plant Japanese Maple trees in their gardens. We take a funny approach to autumn here in France: instead of seeing the bright side of this wonderful season such as the fiery-toned leaves, the first chimney fires or picking up pumpkins in garden centers… we are saturated with articles that only talk about how to deal with depression at this time of year. Quite dismal, isn’t it? I wish the French knew about books such as Anne of Green Gables or Little Women. These are just perfect reads for the season. They would definitely see things with a different point of view.
I try to embrace this time of year as it should be. I love going for walks in the Jardin des Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg, which are my two favorite gardens in Paris and then having some hot chocolate in a nice café. However, as I spend most weekends in the countryside, I usually take walks in the forest with a basket in hand to gather pretty evergreens that will be displayed across the house. When I am not in the woods gathering, I enjoy visiting the local farmers’ markets to find pumpkins and fruits/vegetables of the season that look lovely in buckets or baskets inside or outside the house.
This year has been amazing in France in terms of autumn foliage. I have never seen so many richly-coloured leaves on my path in the woods. Even more exciting, I’ve spotted three deer on my adventures (not on the same day though!) making these truly enchanting experiences.
A nice outdoor activity the French like doing at this time of year is mushroom-hunting. Not every year is a good one for mushrooms but when it is, it usually starts at the beginning of October. Mushroom-hunting is really a lot of fun, comparable to treasure hunting. Even though I am not an expert, I can safely recognize four varieties of mushrooms. I am always so proud to come home with a basket full of those delicious little things! We cook them in a very simple way: a little bit of butter, salt, pepper, minced shallots and garlic with some heavy cream (crème fraîche). Add a few potatoes and you have the perfect dinner to eat in front of the fireplace.
Autumn is definitely the season where I cook and bake the most. Soups are my favorite when the days get darker and colder: pumpkin, mushroom, beet soups… there are just so many choices. Those autumn soups are very easy to make and are literally life savers when you get home late after being stuck in the Parisian traffic. It is quite convenient to have the soup already prepared in advance. And it can last several days! I’ve put the recipe for pumpkin soup below. I would love to know if your recipe differs!
This is my last post for November. I am planning a few posts about the Christmas season so stay tuned!
Pumkin soup recipe
2 liters chicken stock
4 chopped onions
5 cloves minced garlic
Roasted hazel nuts
Heat stock and bring to a boil then put it aside. Peel the pumpkins, remove the seeds and cut into chunks. Chop the onions and the garlic.
Heat 5 tbsp olive oil in a large cooking pot then add the bacon slices, the onions and the garlic. Add a little salt and pepper. Let it all cook until it has a nice yellow color and then add the big chunks of pumpkins.
Pour the chicken/vegetable stock over it, and cover for 30 min.
Once cooked, blend everything together and serve in bowls with a teaspoon of crème fraîche, add a drizzle of olive oil and some crushed roasted hazelnuts.