Approaching Autumn

by Fresh and Frugal

Happy first day of Autumn. I can think of very little in the world that announces its presence more than pumpkin, soup, and crunchy leaves. With that in mind, I’d like to share a little sum’n sum’n with you: pumpkin, soup, and crunchy leaves!


For the past week or so, it’s been a little nippy in the mornings — early mornings, that is. I’m up and out the door to be at work by 6:30 three days of the week. Having an excuse to wrap up in a scarf is more than I could have hoped for in last year’s heatwave. The first day of wearing a scarf is usually heralded by none other than a pumpkin spice latte. Yes, I indulge. More regularly than I should, really. That must be why two weeks ago, I just needed to learn how to make it on my own.


So I did! As usual, the link is posted below (since I used someone else’s recipe). Now, let’s get back to this soup business. For weeks, I’ve been itching to get back into the kitchen and make some kind of soup. The delicious kind. Every kind. The best kind. Creamy. No, brothy and packed with vegetables. Oh, even better, ridden with barley and beef stock! Lentil-based? Split pea! Chicken broth! Lemongrass and coconut milk! More!

Because of all that back and forth, all of those ideas and considerations and trashed grocery lists (oh, the lists!), I just stopped and looked at my fridge. What’s in there? What could I use? Well, maybe if I put a little water on, throw in some salt, and get started with a couple of onions and some garlic. Drop in a handful of chicken breasts, because let’s face it: I hate touching chicken, so I’m not buying a raw one. Certainly not whole. Maybe I could slice and dice a few carrots, rip up a few slightly wilted handfuls of kale…

Wait! I could almost hear MaryEllen’s voice. No wine? Just who do you think I am? How… uncivilized. So. You can guess what happened next.


That, by the way, is what happened to me, not the soup. Moving on! What’s soup without some spices, eh? Dill, bay leaves, peppercorns… No peppercorns? Ground pepper it is, then. A handful of dried red pepper flakes, just for a little interest. That should do. A little more salt, maybe. And mushrooms. More mushrooms. Last but not least: the stars!






Chicken and Stars Soup

4 thinly sliced chicken breasts

2 onions

1/2 head of garlic

1 bag of baby carrots (or 3-4 large carrots)

6 large white mushrooms

1 bunch of kale (or spinach)

3 tbsp dried dill (more if it’s fresh!)

1 tbsp dried red pepper flakes

4 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste



Fill a large pot half full of water. Add some salt if you want it to boil more quickly (and for flavor!).

Add the chicken breasts (I cut them up later).

Roughly chop the onion and garlic. Throw it in.

Add the spices (dill, red pepper flakes, and black pepper).

Chop the carrots and strip the kale from its stalks. Toss them in, too.

Give it a good stir, and let it boil until you’re happy with it (45 minutes-1 hour).

Read the instructions on your noodles. My stars only took 7 minutes before al dente, so instead of putting the whole box of pasta in the pot, I threw some into the bottom of my bowl and poured the soup on top.

Giving them approximately 10 minutes to absorb the broth (since it was no longer on a heat source), I put the rest of the soup in containers so I could freeze them and have easy-to-transport emergency lunches for the next few weeks. Om nom nom…


Pumpkin Spice Latte