Thursday, February 4, 2010

My work is loving the world . . .

This new year I have promised myself I will learn a new poem BY HEART every week. What an enlightening project this is turning out to be!

Trekking up and down hills on my morning walk, written poem in hand, I rhythmically pound uplifting words into my body and memory with each step.

And, like a mantra, or a prayer, words carry me into a transcendent appreciation for everything. The flowers, the trees, the animals along my path seems to burst with an extra dimension of beauty.

This week's poem is Messenger by Mary Oliver.

My work is loving the world . . .

Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

She is saying that loving the world means noticing ALL the beauty.

(Look! This flowering kale begged me to take its photo this morning.)

As a student of Oliver's transcendent poetry, I have been paying attention to my cooking too--noticing and basking in the beauty of what is in season and bountiful in the markets. There is something deeply nourishing and satisfying about eating foods in their season.

Bright orange butternut squash, along with its elegant cousin Tahitian squash, is spilling off tables at our farmer’s market.

Now, it is even winking at me from clear packages at Costco.

I remember from years past how warming and heartening butternut squash soup is, and so, so easy to make. Truly it takes only minutes.

Best of all, it tastes rich, yet has less than 100 calories in a cupful.

The only seasoning you need to add is a blend of warming and fragrant curry spices. In India, where curry originated, the spices are traditionally prepared fresh, just before using. But a really good brand of commercial ready-mixed curry powder works beautifully. I love Sun Brand Madras Curry Powder, available in many markets and on Amazon.

Just lightly brown the onions, stir in curry, and add squash and chicken broth. See how lovely it looks while cooking.

Let it cool a bit, then pour into the blender and turn it into a smooth puree.

As Mary Oliver reminds us:

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me

keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be


Let's not rush through winter and all its comforting bounty. Spring may be just beginning to bloom in the form of flowering plum trees on our block, just peeking around the corner at us with ideas of her own.

But while winter lingers, I want to sip a steaming cup of squash soup while writing to you at my computer, and savor each and every moment.


12 cups, or 12 first course servings

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter

2 large onions, sliced

1 tablespoon curry powder

10 cups (about 3-1/2 pounds) Tahitian or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½ inch chunks

42 ounces chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

In a 4 or 5 quart saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until golden and tender, stirring occasionally. Add remaining butter and curry powder and cook 1 minute, stirring, to remove any raw flavor. Add squash, broth, and salt, heat to boiling. Simmer over low heat until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool until luke warm.

Transfer half the soup to blender. With dish towel covering the top blend at low speed until very smooth. Pour soup into storage containers.

Reheat soup before serving.

To prepare in advance: Soup may be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for at least a week, or in the freezer for months.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE butternut squash. Thank you for sharing such a delicious post!