It's officially Autumn on the Outer Banks, meaning brisk evenings, jeans with your flip flops instead of shorts, and all things pumpkin, squash, and… bisque? I recently went on a hunt for the best fall soups our northern beaches have to offer, and I did find a few squash-y creations but, it turns out, our beach really is just delighted with itself and all the fresh seafood available year-round.

Hoping to find pumpkin this and butternut that, I kept coming across bisques — rich, creamy soups made from crustaceans. Some of the highlights in this theme were Red Sky’s Crab Bisque, Argyles’ Shrimp and Lobster Bisque, and the beautiful She-Crab Soup from Black Pelican. Can’t you just taste the creamy savoriness right now?

What else is Autumn for, if not stuff like this? Well, Argyles also has a French Onion Soup on the menu that wouldn’t make anyone mad, Blue Point is serving a Potato Onion creation that feels about right for October, and Blue Moon Beach Grill is giving us a full meal in a bowl with their daily special of Beef and Pork Chili. Coastal Provisions is soon making the switch from Seafood Gazpacho to Oyster Stew with Potatoes and Leeks; if I’m going to eat oyster stew anywhere, it’s going to be from Dan Lewis’s kitchen. Plus, they’re about to roll out some tasty vegan soups on the retail side of the Coastal Provisions market.

I still needed to satisfy my squash soup craving, though, and I got my fix at Aqua Restaurant in Duck: Roasted Butternut and Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Onions.

“Roasted” is right, because this soup had the best caramelized, earthy flavor and a creamy texture with a rich, oniony undertone, flecked with a generous grating of fall’s official calling card: nutmeg.

That combination was so sublime, not to mention those thin, crispy onions floating in a crunchy line right on top. That soup and I had a moment there as I gazed out Aqua’s big soundfront windows.

If you live here or love to visit in the fall, you know what it’s like to look out at the water and feel your shoulders relax a bit, knowing the summer rush is over, and we can settle into fall with all the goodness it has to offer. That was my Roasted Butternut and Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Onions moment, and it was exactly what I’d been searching for.

Although nothing beats dining at a restaurant, enjoying food from one of our excellent local chefs and letting someone else do the clean-up, it’s nice to make food with your own two hands every once in a while.

Our local farmer’s markets are teeming with fall produce and every fall spice you’ll ever need is at The Spice & Tea Exchange — including the sweet stuff, like Pumpkin Pie Sugar. Here is the simplest recipe for Butternut Squash Soup you’ll ever make and it’ll feed your fall harvest cravings every time.

It uses our Autumn Harvest Spice Blend, which is a combination of maple syrup powder, cinnamon, turbinado sugar, garlic, onion, salt, ginger, allspice, and cloves.

Megan Scott is co-owner of The Spice & Tea Exchange of Duck, 1171 Duck Road in the Scarborough Lane Shoppes. Check out her food blog, ServingTonight.com.

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