“Yes,” said Cook. “That is soup that you are smelling. The princess, not that you would know or care, is missing, bless her good hearted self. And times are terrible. And when times are terrible, soup is the answer. Don’t it smell like the answer?”~ Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Desperaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread
Much like the character of Cook in The Tale of Desperaux, I believe compassion and soup are the answers to most of life’s questions. And every time my daughters and I read The Tale of Desperaux together, which has been many times to date, I know I’m not the only one with a soul connection to soup.
I apparently have the palate of a 96 year-old, because soup has always been my most favorite and most comforting meal. When I was little, my birthday dinner choice would be my mom’s chicken and dumplings, and I have many sentimental memories of a beef and vegetable soup paired with cornbread when my Grandpa would visit.
When we would travel to my great grandparents’ home in the Texas Hill Country, every now and then we were lucky enough to have chicken soup with homemade noodles waiting when our car pulled up at night, served in the same wide-rimmed, glossy white bowls that sit in my cabinet today.
For me, there is literally nothing more delicious than a slice of buttered bread paired with a warm rich broth.
Anytime I am feeling low, feeling a little run down or feeling sad, my big soup pot comes to the stove. I always start with avocado oil, garlic and onion, and the delicious sizzling aroma as I chop other veggies is pure comfort.
And what makes the act of making soup at my home even more special, is that often only one other person in my four-person house will even eat it with me. So, if I’m being honest, I know deep down that the entire act of making it is just for me. It is perhaps one of the sweetest ways I choose to care for and love myself on a regular basis.
When you add the season of winter to this mix (which is totally optional for me, as I will make an enormous pot of soup when it is 100 degrees in August without a blink), there is nothing more cozy or welcoming. It’s without a doubt one of my most consistent and stand-by self-care rituals.
I’m going to share with you one of my favorite simple soup recipes today for fall and winter. When our house flooded five years ago, one of my daughter’s teachers sent home a similar recipe for us along with a salad to be supportive. Her kindness toward our family in making that soup is something I’ve never forgotten, and my own version of her butternut squash soup has become a staple in my little rituals file cabinet.
My butternut squash soup looks like this:
– 1 large butternut squash roasted at 350 for about an hour
– 1 large onion, red or yellow is my preference, roughly cut
– 1-2 garlic cloves (or garlic powder)
– 2-3 medium carrots cut into chunks
– 3-4 medium celery stalks chopped
– 1 can of Coconut milk (I prefer this brand with no guar)
– Garnish with green onion and/or bacon crumbles (optional)
Poke holes in the butternut squash with a knife. Set it in a oven safe dish and roast for about an hour or until it’s soft. Simmer the onion and garlic in avocado oil. Add the celery and carrot. Add 8 cups of water (you can use chicken or vegetable broth when you have it) or enough water to cover the veggies. Cook until the carrots are softened. Skin and cube the butternut squash and add it to the pot. After it’s all simmered a bit, stir in the coconut milk. Puree the entire soup with either an immersion blender or food processor. Salt and Pepper to taste – I am always generous with black pepper for this recipe. Add cayenne or red pepper if you want a little kick. Top with green onion and/or bacon crumbles. Play with herbs like basil or sage if you’re into them.
Every now and then if I go overboard with the broth ratio, I’ll add a can of pumpkin to thicken things up. The entire process of making this soup is more intuition than recipe, so just eyeball what looks right to you, and you can’t go wrong.
Enjoy every nurturing sip. And if you’re not a soup person, pick another meal you love and make it just for you. Sometimes a meal made especially for you is all you need to inspire a little well-being and hope.
“And hope is like love…a ridiculous, wonderful, powerful thing.” ~ Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Desperaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread
I am convinced that ritual is one of the key ingredients to a life well-lived…or at the very least, a great way for a busy person to pause and actually notice when he or she is in the midst of a life well-lived.
And I am even more convinced that ritual is most likely to happen consistently when it is simple, easy, imperfect, and quick.
I’ll be sharing several little rituals I rely on this January and February. I encourage you to try one, and see if it’s something that adds meaning or space for reflection and integration of all the seemingly ordinary yet rich facets of your own every day life!