Butternut Squash Soup
I’m starting to realize that we will never stop learning.
Years out of college and a decade from high school, I can tell you that my learning here on earth has only just begun. In school, our studies were a series of numbers, punctuation rules, and a seemingly endless list of things to memorize. I can still tell you the name and order of all of the planets in our solar system, and I can even pronounce the word “onomatopoeia”, both things my seventh grade teacher tricked me in to thinking would somehow be helpful in my adult life.
Today my studies are vastly different and infinitely more practical. I study my daughter as she explores with her tiny fingers, eyes, and feet and as she so innocently discovers new things like wind or the sound of a train. I pour over new recipes and study my husband’s reaction while he taste tests for the first time. I study fabrics when I’m preparing to quilt a new project, gas prices when I’m choosing a pump station to fill my tank, and my best friend’s face when I’m looking for her approval as I try on a new pair of jeans.
I also spend more time than I’d care to admit studying other women. I tell you this with equal parts shame and fear, but only in hopes that you would be able to hear my honesty.
Women- we are brutal, both to one another and to ourselves. We compare thigh gaps and complexions and wardrobes. We size up one another’s weaknesses and often feel small in the shadow of someone else’s strengths. We put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to keep up with the Jones’, our neighbors, and every social media personality whose curated life seems so effortless and perfect from the view of our iPhone screen.
Let me be clear: no one has it all. Furthermore, no one does it all. Hands that wash piles of soccer uniforms and scrub finger paint out of tile grout and wipe little five year old noses don’t always have perfectly manicured nails. Bodies that are strong from hard labor or from caring for a debilitated family member do not always fit in skinny tailored pants and blouses. Women who work long hours at two jobs to get through grad school, or who spend their evenings tutoring middle schoolers with homework, or who stay a little late at Starbucks to talk to a friend who needs a pair of listening ears and a dose of fresh perspective are not the women who have time to prepare nightly 5 course meals out of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.
Let’s all just chill. Let’s cut ourselves a break. Who cares if the laundry basket gets a little full or if your two year old goes a day without eating the recommended four servings of vegetables. No one needs to know if we haven’t shaved our legs yet this week or that the real reason we don’t wear the popular-at-the-moment high-waisted jeans is because it makes our butt look like the offspring of a muffin and a hippo. No one has it all.
So this is what I propose: Identify your strengths and work them. Own it. And if something isn’t your thing, don’t get discouraged. Either work hard and figure out how to get whatever it is you want or smile, shrug, and keep doing your thing. You probably have a lot going for you already.
Likewise, celebrate the talents you see in others. Tell people when they’re killin’ it. What if we spent a little less time dwelling on jealousy or judgement and a little more time sharing appreciation for the beauty and skill we see in others? What if we took captive every negative thought and tried to turn it into a word of encouragement for someone else?
This is something I’m desperately needing to work on. I want to be more of myself and less of what I feel pressure to be. Even more so, I want to be happy with the person I am and joyful towards the people around me. I kinda feel like things would be better that way.
Things are also better with this soup. It tastes like fall and reminds me of chilly days, cozy socks, and sharing lunch with your best friend while sitting cross-legged on the couch.
You should make this soup. When you do, invite someone over for a bowl and casually interject some kind words. Make someone’s day with words and with food.
Also, if you make this soup and want to invite me over, I promise to bring lunchtime appropriate wine and loads of compliments for whoever gives me a bowl and a spoon. (Cough… Anyone?)
- 2 butternut squash, appx. 5 lb total weight
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 12 garlic cloves
- 4 whole sprigs plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
- 4 whole sprigs plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
- 6 slices of applewood smoked bacon, browned and chopped with grease reserved
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 1-1/2 cup chopped), or 1 cup chopped shallots
- 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup of whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
- Cut each squash lengthwise into two equal halves. Drizzle each half with olive oil and stuff the cavity of each with one sprig of rosemary and thyme. Distribute the unpeeled garlic cloves among the cavities of each squash half and sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Carefully turn each squash half, flesh facing downward, on to the lined baking sheet.
- Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Allow to cool.
- When squash is cooled, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and set it aside. Squeeze garlic from its peel and reserve it with the squash. Discard herbs.
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Combine the reserved bacon grease and butter. Add chopped onion to the pot and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes or until onions are soft and fragrant.
- Add squash and garlic to the pot and toss together with the onions. Add chicken stock, white wine, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, chopped rosemary, and chopped thyme. Stir to combine. Mash any large clumps of squash until broken up. Reduce heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Once simmering, remove from heat and stir in the cream. Carefully, puree the soup using an immersion blender or in batches using a standard blender. Once smooth, add salt and pepper to taste (I used 2 teaspoons of salt and another 1/2 teaspoon pepper).
- Garnish soup with chopped bacon bits and serve with croutons or sliced baguette.