I am only as proportionate as my rituals allow me to be. Listening to the same songs, following the habits that compose my sanity, succumbing to the desires that fuel my footsteps – both mourning and exalting the previous in order to accept the future. We are creatures of curious, comfort-seeking habit. We need familiarity while we plan our advances. This time of year I feel life flow in and out of me in rapid succession. I reflect like fucking crazy but come out strong and married to the resolution of a new year. The cold snap does both bury and ignite me.
I am attentive to the light as it is most commonly fleeting these days. My day job is on a hill that overlooks town. Precisely at quarter to four does the sun (without hesitation) dip between the hills and bathe the streets in a final emblem of amber coalescence. At this point in the day I watch our gilded reality settle in, eager to observe, however nauseated I am from hot, unending, undesirable company coffee.
The darkness begins to skirt, and guarded, I let go of our sixteen degree day in exchange for a subzero night. Stepping outside my lungs instantly blush, replete with ice-fringed oxygen and refrigerated air. In the copious cold I expel prompt rigidity – softened only by the thought of a heart-beating in the kitchen – two wild masses of fur, teeth, tongues, and paws – and another human I share both my nausea and excitement with. Softened only by the thought of an ever-swelling pot of soup, an expressway of enlightenment to my furrowed buckled, winter-laden bones.
This pot of soup is the business. Yes, squash can be easily overplayed this time of year (although its seasonality can’t be beat) – but I’m a believer that we must embrace its golden innards in all forms. Butternut is beautiful for all its worth – you are rich with one of these on hand. I hope you don’t find it cheating of me to turn it so quickly into soup – but to this I find it both an elixir and a beacon on the darkest and shortest of winter days. ps – you can use apple soup stock for this and immerse yourself completely. pps – sorry not sorry for caramelizing everything lately – the winter made me do it.
- 6 shallots, peeled and halved
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- ⅔ cup cream
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss shallots with olive oil on a large sheet pan and roast 30–40 minutes, until tender and browned. Cool.
- Combine shallots with coconut milk (or cream), lemon juice, dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1 cup chopped celery and leaves
- 1 large garlic clove, smashed
- ¼ cup packed sage, chopped fine (+ more for topping)
- 2 lb butternut squash (1 medium), peeled and cubed
- ¼ cup white wine
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- ½ tsp cardamom
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- In a large stock pot heat the olive oil. saute onion, carrot, celery, garlic and sage over medium-high heat until onions are translucent and vegetables have softened and are tender — about 7 minutes.
- Add butternut squash, toss, and cook for 3 minutes. add white wine and cook until mostly evaporated. add vegetable broth, cardamom, white pepper, and cannellini beans. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered 10–25 minutes — until squash is completely tender.
- Puree soup, in batches if needed, until smooth. add apple cider vinegar and bring soup back up to temperature. Thin with extra broth or water if need be.
- Serve topped with chopped sage and shallot cream.