As summer leaves us and the weather turns, I find my small family spending more time at our home in New York. No more weekend escapes from the hot city weather or vacations on Lake Michigan. Fewer weekend activities and places to go. One of the things I love about autumn is always I fall back into a domestic routine, with regular morning trips to the farmers market and long afternoons in the kitchen. But as autumn arrives so does the very beginning of the bustling holiday season. While spiced cider and doughnuts and everything-pumpkin spice pop up around us, autumn becomes the perfect time to host small gatherings to celebrate the harvest bounty.
Rather than have an extravagant dinner party, invite friends and family over for a simple harvest soup and salad evening, highlighting the autumn produce. You don’t need a large buffet or fancy dinner table. A soup and salad gathering gives the occasion an informal but warm feel.
Begin making a Winter Squash Soup in advance that freezes beautifully. Soups always taste best after they sit for a day or two so it is best to make this ahead. Bake Cheese Straws earlier in the day of the party. Assemble the Fennel and Pear Salad just before guests arrive.
A coffee table is a great place to present the meal. Serve the soup from a large pot with oversized mugs or latte bowls for guests to help themselves. Finish the salad by dressing and topping it with some fresh green fennel fronds and sweet Candied Maple Pecans. Place a platter of the savory Cheese Straws nearby – you’ll want to dip those in the soup! Encourage guests to sit around a coffee table or in chairs in front of a fireplace, rather than a dining room table. Enjoy the occasion with plenty of cold hard cider or mugs of hot apple cider. Happy Harvest!
And if you’re feeling generous, make an extra batch or two of Candied Maple Pecans and hand them to friends in cellophane bags as favors.