Autumn, with its vibrant leaves, crisp, clean air, and bountiful harvest, invokes a sense of comfort and family togetherness that no other season can match.

With harvest festivals aplenty, this is the time of year to enjoy the bounty of your garden or the harvest of farmers in your area. Choosing local harvest foods, such as pumpkins, apples and squash, is a great way to support your community and the environment, too.

“Squash is a traditional staple food, rich in beta carotene, fiber and a satiating sweetness,” said Autumn Brennan, Organic Valley Family of Farms' food aficionado. “It's a versatile veggie with a well-rooted history and diversity in flavors. From the caramelesque aroma of delicate squash roasting in the oven, to spicy pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day, squash surrounds you with a sweet and subtle warmth that soothes the nerves and delights the senses.”

To enhance the flavor of your squash recipes, Brennan recommends using high-quality organic butter, produced without synthetic chemicals, hormones or antibiotics.

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HARVEST MOON SQUASH SOUP

(Makes 4 servings)

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup shallots, minced

1 cup carrots, grated

3 cups Organic Valley butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon Organic Valley Salted Butter

1/2 bay leaf (remove prior to serving)

1 large Granny Smith or tart baking apple, peeled and chopped

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Water (as needed for thinning soup)

2 cups organic low-salt chicken broth

1/4 cup Organic Valley Sour Cream

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, saute onion, shallots, carrots, and bay leaf in butter until softened.

Add the squash and apple, chicken broth and 1/2 cup of water.

Add curry, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 45 minutes or until squash is tender.

In a blender, puree the soup in batches, transferring pureed soup to a clean saucepan. Add enough additional water to thin soup to desired consistency.

Top each bowlful with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy with hearty whole-grain bread.

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