When I was a child, on Sunday evenings in the fall and winter, my grandmother would usually serve us a soup made of broth and vegetables, sometimes meat, which she would pour into our bowls over thick slices of stale country bread. The soup was excellent but by the time everybody was served (no way anyone could start before that, it just wasn't done), the bread was mushy. I would have preferred it on the side to dunk as we went, but that wasn't considered proper either. So for this recipe, I cut up some slices of stale sourdough bread, gently dry them out in the oven (these humble croutons may be prepared a few days ahead of time and can probably be done in a toaster oven on the lowest setting if you only need one or two slices) and then serve them as an accompaniment to a butternut squash and leek soup. I buy the squash already cut up, rinse it out, cut it in smaller pieces as needed, clean and slice a few leeks, put both vegetables together in a pot, cover them with water (broth would be nice but the ready-made cubes work too) and let the whole thing boil for a (very short) while (the squash and the leek turn tender very fast, don't let them overcook!), pour into individual bowls and... serve the croutons on the side. Sometimes it's good to be all grown up! But I still don't dunk... I float the croutons one by one over the broth which they slowly, very slowly, imbibe without losing the crunchiness of their crust, so that when you bite into them, the tastes of the levain and of the vegetables bloom together in the mouth like a magnificent firework of fall flavors. Divine...and, oh, so proper!