This particular Friday morning I did not stop moving. It was still dark outside. Washing the dishes in the sink led to pulling everything away from the back of the counter to wipe away the last traces of cocoa powder that had exploded out of the box as I shook it the day before. which then led to cleaning the stove top of a weeks worth of cooking debris and grease splatter. I spied the butternut squash that had been living at the edge of the counter behind the stove. Remembered the half of another in the fridge waiting to be used up. I turned the oven on to 350 as I held onto the image of squash cut in half, faces rubbed with olive oil, and slowly roasted. I filled a baking pan just so, and popped it in the oven. Light was just starting to line the edges of the windows. I finally sat down with my first cup of steaming black coffee. Maybe I would make soup.
The rhythm of these days is kept in the cycle of short daytime light and long nighttime dark. Of the warmth of Yogi stretched out alongside me on top of the covers and Nora curled in a ball in her bed on the fur rug next to me. Of waking in the middle of the night to come down and feed the wood stove, of a few hours of meditative moving to my own beat after the dogs have been fed and played with, and before the crew arrives to begin construction for the day. Mom is coming to live with me. We are both getting excited now with the reality of the addition to my house taking form. That the framing is almost complete and the snow has held off this long, feels like a blessing. Beautiful color filled days belie the fact that we are already in the middle of January.
But it has been cold. Making a pot of hot sweet chai tea each day for the crew doesn’t seem like enough. I want to start making pots of soup for them too. I have soup on the brain.
I cut a large cauliflower in half and break into small florets to add to my four quart pot. Add chopped onion. Sprinkle dried ginger and crumbled summer savory. Just cover with water and cook with lid on until soft. There is chicken broth in the fridge. And half & half. That’s going to be the soup. I move through a moment of judging myself for not efficiently adding the squash to the pot to cook with the other vegetables. But this is a process. Besides, the house is now filled with the aroma of the baking squash and the kitchen toasty warm from the oven. I wouldn’t have traded this for the efficiency, no way. I let the fork tender and browned skin squash cool enough to handle and with my hands, peel away the skin and squeeze the just warm squash into the pot with the other vegetables. Yet another benefit of roasting. My cranky morning fingers, stiff with cold and age and constant use, relish the warmth. The rich orange releases another burst of scent before making its final descent into the pot. I add a pat of butter and some chicken broth, stir it all around, and let it sit covered on the stove until later.
An hour or so before mealtime. I will smooth it all together with an immersion blender, add some more chicken broth, heat until steaming, then add half & half, salt & pepper. I’ll roast some sunflower seeds in a small cast iron pan and add some tamari at the end. To sprinkle on top of the creamy savory soup.
It is now January 19 and the weekend. A different kind of rhythm will set in. A storm is coming. The crew finished putting the windows in and have tarped the entire addition to protect from the onslaught of predicted snow. I will bring in many loads of wood, eat steaming hot bowls of squash soup, and feel the incredible poignancy of this day in the life, of a year after Dad passed. A storm is coming. I like to think it is Dad saying enough, it is time for snow already! In our last years of time spent together I was lucky enough to share his version of morning meditative time when we visited, when he wasn’t on the slopes skiing, especially in the quiet of snow, when the rest of the world still slept and it was just the two of us and the dogs. We’d drink our hot black coffee with the fire, talking quietly, or not talking at all. I miss him so much. He would have liked how home here is transforming. I remember him going through a phase of making squash soup too. He liked to put maple syrup in his.
Cream of Squash Soup
1 large butternut squash, cut if half lengthwise
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 large head cauliflower or 1 small head, washed and broken into small florets
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. summer savory
2-3 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup half & half
1. Preheat oven to 350. Rub cut faces of squash (I leave the seeds) with olive oil and place face down in backing dish, fit snugly together. Bake until fork tender, about an hour. Remove from oven and cool until just warm.
2. While squash is baking, add cauliflower, onion, ginger and savory to a medium soup pot and just cover with water. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
3. While squash is still warm, remove skin and seeds and add to pot with rest of vegetables. Add 1-1/2 cups of chicken broth, bring to a boil, add the butter, swirl it in, and turn off heat. At this point you can continue with finishing the soup, or let it cool and continue later.
4. About 30-40 minutes before you are ready to serve, blend contents of the pot until smooth (I use an immersion blender right in the pot). Add more chicken broth if too thick. Heat until just bubbling, add half & half, cover, turn heat to low and heat until just steaming. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Garnish with tamari sunflower/ or pumpkin seeds (roast in cast iron pan until just browned, turn off heat, splash with tamari, stir until completely coated and let cool in pan.