The combination of the season can be appetizing to look at as well as eat. I’ve spent some time testing out a few warming recipes that are great for long after that special spooky evening.

Everything’s coming up orange — and black — for Halloween. So why not dinner?


The combination of the season can be appetizing to look at as well as eat. I’ve spent some time testing out a few warming recipes that are great for long after that special spooky evening.


The big night itself often proves to be cold, and parents as well as little ones might need a soothing, like warm soup, either before or after the festivities.


In my experience, parents need it doubly so. The kids who are too excited to eat beforehand are too stuffed with candy afterwards. Sure, we think we have our eyes on everything, but those little hands are capable of a quick dip into the goodie bag while we’re watching the sidewalk for tripping hazards.


I tried a black bean soup enhanced with the smoky flavor of smoked paprika or chipotle powder. Either one will do the trick and provide a treat for foot-weary adults. The orange comes from the bits of sweet potato added to the stock. Red onion adds some spooky purple while the optional garlic might ward off little vampires.


Those who like a thick, hearty soup laden with cheese might be tempted to try one that adds the extra saltiness of bacon as well. Granted with all the health concerns these days, it’s rarely on the menu. But grownups deserve a treat, and the kids might be enticed to try this one.


A butternut squash soup features the color of the season and the flavor of the same word. Add orange juice as the last step of the process to keep the flavor bright. Cooks may like to play with this recipe, changing up the squash for sweet potatoes, sprinkling curry powder as a mysterious seasoning or topping it with popcorn at the last minute — as an autumn-worthy garnish.


These recipes, satisfying on any chilly night, might be worthy of a rehearsal before the actual holiday.


Orange and Black Bean Soup




2 cans black beans, rinsed well and drained                             

2 tablespoons canola oil                                                           

1 medium red onion, chopped                                                   

1 red bell pepper, seeded, de-ribbed and chopped                   

 2 ribs fresh fennel or celery, chopped                                        

2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)                                            

1 tablespoon cumin                                                                

1 tablespoon chipotle powder or ground smoked paprika          

4 cups water                                                                               

2 cups brewed coffee                                                             

 1 ham hock salt, to taste                                                     

Greek yogurt, for garnish

1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot on medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, fennel or celery and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened and no longer crunchy to the bite, for 8 to 10 minutes. Add cumin and paprika or chipotle powder. Cook, stirring, 1 minute longer.


2. Add the beans, water, coffee and ham hock to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring from time to time, for 30 to 45 minutes. Taste to be sure that everything is tender at the 30-minute point. If so, then you almost have soup.


3. To thicken the stock, take a cup of the mixture from the pot and puree it in the blender or food processor until smooth. Return it to the pot and stir it through. Remove and discard the ham hock.


4. Serve the soup in thick mugs garnished with some Greek yogurt.


Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Cheddar and Bacon Cheese Soup




1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces         

1/2 cup all-purpose flour                                                         

4 cups chicken stock                                                                   

4 cups milk                                                                                  

3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves                                                      

2 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese                                                    

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Fry the bacon until crisp in a large skillet. Drain the pan, leaving only enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan. Set the bacon bits aside.


2. Return the pan to the burner over low heat, stir in the flour; continue cooking and stirring until the flour is lightly golden in color.


3. Gradually stir in the chicken stock and the milk over medium heat until the mixture reaches a simmer and thickens slightly. Sprinkle in the sage. Turn the heat down to low. Add the cheese and stir as it melts. Taste and season with salt and pepper.


4. Ladle the soup into bowls or mugs and sprinkle the tops with the reserved bacon.


Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup




1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cubed                      

4 teaspoons canola oil                                                                   

1 large yellow onion, chopped                                                    

2 teaspoons curry powder                                                                  

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock                                             

1 cup orange juice                                                                      

zest of 1 orange, optional

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the squash and apple cubes in a large bowl the oil. Spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the squash is tender and golden, 30 to 40 minutes.


2. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of canola oil in a stockpot. Add the onions and cook, stirring for 5 minutes until they are tender and no longer crunchy.


3. Add the roasted squash, apples and wine to the pot. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes until very, very tender. Cool slightly. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree. Return it to the pot. Add the orange juice and heat until very hot before ladling into bowls.


Makes 6 servings.


Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by email at KitchenCall@aol.com.