It rained today*, leaving the trees bare and the sidewalks littered with orange and yellow and brown. I stopped outside the office and looked down to see my brown boots against the fallen colors, the leaves plastered to the ground, and thought about what a nice photo that would make. I kept walking, my camera in my purse, telling myself I would regret not taking a picture later. But the image is still in my head, and maybe it will stay there through the winter, when I look down to snow, instead.
By the time I got home, one side of the sky was a fading pink, while the other was dark. The days are getting shorter, and I've been digging through my recipe files to find our cold-weather favorites. There was a baked penne with ground beef, tomato sauce and cheese. You can't really go wrong with cheesy baked pasta.
I'm snuggled up in my robe now, and the window is open. I can still hear the crickets outside, but they'll be gone soon, too. I'm looking forward to cozy fires, but don't want to rush into them. It's not time yet. I've been switching off between flats and boots, but I'm dreading the day I have to put on my winter coat. I've been making soup, and thinking about soup, and eating soup.
This change of seasons. Even though it's the same bittersweet feeling every year, I can't help but stand still, amazed, right in the middle of it. It's as if each day is a page turning, and I'm reading every word very carefully to soak it all up. I'm not quite ready for this chapter to end.
*I wrote this blog post sometime last week for Just Write, which I learned about through this lovely post from Kate. Since then, I read a book curled up next to our first fire of the season, crunched leaves on what was probably one of my last runs outside until spring, and ate soup almost every single day. Stay tuned for more Just Write posts on Tuesdays, I hope.
Split Pea Soup with Ham and Bacon (adapted from Gourmet)
4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup diced smoked ham
1/2 pound dried split peas (I used yellow)
2 cans (4 cups) chicken broth
1 cup water (plus 2-3 more, depending on desired thickness)
1 bay leaf
1-2 cups diced potatoes (Optional. I used 2 for a chunkier soup)
salt, to taste
In a large pot or dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring, until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Discard all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat from pot. Add onions and carrots, stirring, until softened. Add diced ham and cook 1-2 minutes more. Add split peas, chicken broth, 1 cup of water and bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes after about an hour. (I added mine way too early and they ended up very soft, but I didn't mind). Let simmer for an hour longer, for a total of 2 hours, adding water if the soup becomes too thick (I ended up adding 3 more cups of water).
When soup is at desired thickness, add crumbled bacon and serve. Makes 4 servings.