I haven’t updated my blog for a couple weeks, much to my dismay. I try to keep my posts peppy, because I usually am, at least when it comes to food, but this time I’m not. We can’t all be peppy all the time. At least I can’t.
I have had a hard time updating because life has gotten in the way. I’ve been feeling stretched thin, and like a hamster on a wheel all at once- constantly running, frenetic, but not advancing a centimetre. It’s far from gratifying, and I feel that I have very little time to nourish myself. And I’m not just talking about my body, but my mind, my soul, the part of me that needs regular attention if I want to sparkle. Consequently I’ve been feeling dull and, to be honest, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The miserable November weather hasn’t helped.
So my blog has suffered a little bit, but I really don’t want it to. Not because I imagine that I have hundreds of fans who are going to up and abandon me (ha, I wish!), but because I started this thing with the firm decision that it was going to be a hobby that I would stick to, that it would be my creative outlet for myself. Amidst all the madness in my life at the moment, in some weird way, I feel that I have to blog, I have force myself to be creative, even if only a little bit. I just have to “keep on keepin on”, and force myself to continue doing the things that give me pleasure, and get me excited about life.
And that’s what this post is today. It’s a dead easy recipe: Soup. It’s also, I realize, very close to a recipe that was recently posted on my all time favourite blog, My New Roots. Now, completely by chance, my recipe is almost the same as hers, but I promise it wasn’t copying- I’ve been making a version of this for years, and it still does have its own unique little something… and anyway, there is nothing new under the sun. When all is said and done, this is how I make it, and these are my thoughts, and there is a specific reason why I am posting this.
Namely, because putting up a new recipe, taking the time to take care of this little blog, is my own way of taking some time out for and nourishing myself. This recipe isn’t the end all be all in creativity, but it’s something I love and have been making for years and especially when the weather is bleak and you’re questioning everything, it will warm you down to your toes and makes you feel cozy and taken care of.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of self care in particular in relation to Ayruveda, which I’ve done quite a bit of reading on lately. Ayruveda is a system of traditional medicine/healing that dates back over 5000 years to India’s Vedic culture. It is closely linked to yoga, and is at the roots of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Now, I am really just playing around in my research of it, but I think there is a lot of wisdom to it- it looks at the whole person- not simply the body, but the mind as well, to try and bring the person into balance and to his/her healthiest self.
In Ayuruveda, people usually fall into a certain category, or dosha, which takes into account one’s physical body type as well as his/her personality. The doshas, vata, kapha and pitta, represent the elements wind, fire and water, and earth and water, respectively. The idea is that we all tend to gravitate to one of these doshas more than another, and knowing our dosha can help us understand how to balance ourselves. Balance is a key word, because according to Ayuruvedic wisdom, health and well being come when our doshas are physically and inwardly balanced. According to our individual type, we can perform certain practices of self care and eat in a certain way that over time will bring our bodies and minds into a state of balance.
So to give an example, I am a vatta dosha- the wind dosha. It describes me almost to a T. Slender body, always cold especially with cold hands and feet, highly creative and enthusiastic when in balance, but when out of balance prone to anxiety, depression and digestive problems. Some things that aggravate my dosha and throw me out of balance are irregularity in routine, and cold, raw, foods. Having been so irregular in the past regarding my eating routine (constantly going from one “healing” regime to another), and considering my life long salad addiction, I can definitely see some room for improvement, that will help calm my belly as well as my mind. Sadly, eating lots of raw spinach and kale, especially during the colder months, does no favours to my digestion, and makes me gassy and look like I am carrying twins, and I feel excessively cold and often lethargic after eating. Rather, someone like me should favour warming spices, soups, roasted vegetables, and stewed fruits. I will continue to learn about Ayuruveda in my spare time (ha!), as I see a lot of wisdom in the whole approach to health and well-being. I do notice that I feel instantly cozier, calmer, and with a happy tummy, when I eat homemade soups like this. So without further ado, here’s the recipe.
- 2-3 tbsp butter (from grass fed cows), coconut oil or duck fat
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 leek, white parts only
- 2 small apples (I used some local, organic Belgian apples that are very red and very sweet and tart at the same time- it definitely pays to use really good organic apples if you can)
- 1 litre homemade broth (chicken/beef or vegetable- I used chicken broth)- no bouillon cubes PLEASE- better to just use plain water if you don’t have homemade broth.
- 3 tbsp freshly chopped sage leaves
- 2 handfuls of whatever mushrooms you fancy
- ¼ cup chopped pecans (walnuts would work well to)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 180/350. Cut your butternut squash in half, deseed it, and put it face down on a baking sheet and let roast, as is, for about 45 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let cool (you can do this earlier in the day or the day ahead).
- Wash and chop the leek, heat about 1-2 tbsp of fat (butter/coconut oil/duck fat- I have a preference for duck fat) in a large pot and add the leek and dried thyme. Let it sweat on medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until it becomes translucent.
- Spoon all the flesh from the squash into the pan, add one small peeled apple, and pour the broth in the pot. Cover and let it come to a boil on medium heat.
- While your waiting for your ingredients to head up, in a medium sized frying pan, heat the rest of your fat (a tbsp of butter is really best, flavour-wise) and add the sage leaves, on low heat. Let the sage get nicely coated and add the chopped mushrooms. Don’t stir them around a lot, be patient and let them sweat for a few minutes. When they’re half done, add half of the other apple, chopped fine (not necessarily peeled), as well as the chopped pecans. Stir it around once or twice, and turn the head off when the apple is soft, about 3-5 more minutes.
- Once your soup is hot, remove from heat and use a hand mixer (be CAREFUL with these things- I still have no feeling in my left index finger from an unfortunate incident 2 years ago!) or pour everything into a food processor and mix until smooth.
- Transfer into bowls and top with a few spoons of the mushroom/apple mixture and dig in to a bowl of cozy, velvety love. I swear that’s exactly what it tastes like! (it also reminds me a little of stuffing, without the lethargy afterwards).
A note on broth: I make a few litres of bone broth about 1-2 times a week. It is dead easy and really deserves a post all on its own (that I’ll try and get around to doing in the nearish future!). It is really worth the effort to develop the habit of making broth, especially if you have gut issues- diarrhea, constipation, inflammation- this stuff really calms you down and being full of collagen, is instrumental in healing the lining of your gut wall. Sexy right? If that’s not enough to motivate you, it really will help improve the tone of your skin and help give you a nice glow.
In a different life, I relied on bouillon cubes (GASP!!) to flavour stews and soups, but it just isn’t worth it. They are full of salt and additives that generally feed candida, most often they have gluten as well. When you consider how beneficial, and how much better tasting the real stuff is, it seems like a no-brainer. If you have leftover bones from a roast chicken, or even some thighs, or if you have a butcher where you can get a few bones from a happily raised cow, do it- there is a little more to it than this, but essentially you just need to let it simmer with a whole lot of water and a pinch of salt for several hours and you’ve got yourself an amazing soup base. So do it! I dare you!