Category Archives: Soups

Pumpkin Soup

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It seems that every little girl must be a cat at least once for Halloween and yesterday morning when mine scampered out of her bed and into ours the first thing she said was, “meow.”

When asked what she wanted for breakfast, she said a bowl of milk to lap up, so that’s what she got with a little granola added at the end.

We had a mellow Halloween this year, which was fine by me. O seemed pretty pleased with the day herself. After getting purple and pink whiskers and a cat nose painted on her face, I don’t think she needed anything else to be happy. She came home from a full day of school with a bag stuffed with treats, so we decided to skip trick-or-treating, mostly because attempting to do so with a not quite 3 year old who hasn’t napped seemed like asking for disaster. Instead, we sorted her bag of candy and toys, ate a bowl of pumpkin soup for dinner and filled the tub with plastic spiders for a spooky bath.

This week has absolutely flown by. I suppose that’s how the next two months will go too,  now that the holiday season has officially begun. For me, this week was the usual blur of work+kid+life plus some residual, happy exhaustion from a quick weekend trip up to Seattle for a friend’s birthday.

Imagine three women on a boat with a few bottles of wine, three women who have been best friends since grade school but don’t get to see each other often, three woman who have jobs and kids and generally exhausting lives but suddenly had 24 hours to do nothing but relax and eat and laugh and talk and talk and talk. I think we sucked all the air out of Eagle Harbor.

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It was a perfect Seattle weekend. Autumn foliage in full affect, rain interspersed with sun, cold enough to require pea coats and scarves but not that crazy damp chill that goes right down to your bones.

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Twelve years ago I moved from Seattle. Twelve years! How did that happen? All these years I’ve held on to this feeling that I’ve just left and I’ll soon return, but on this trip I had to face that neither is true. I might return one day, but not soon. And if I do, what will it feel like to live there again? Will it feel like home? It’s been twelve years. I feel a little bit like a visitor now when I’m there. My life is so different today than it was when I left.

What is it exactly that I miss about Seattle? The feeling of the place. The people. Turning in a circle and seeing layers of mountains and water on all sides. I miss the colors: blue and purple and green and gray.

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I miss the coffee, which is really good but a normal part of life, not a pretentious affectation (Ahem. I’m talking to you Handsome Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia). And I miss the food. Especially the bakeries. Oh, the bakeries!

As we get older, it seems that the definition of home gets more complicated. At this moment in my life, home is wherever my husband and daughter are. They are home to me. But I can’t just forget the other places I’ve called home in my life. What about the town I grew up in, the place where all my childhood memories are rooted? What about Seattle, where I lived in my twenties and finished growing up? What about New York, a city where I met my husband and  immediately felt at home?

I always thought of home as one specific place, but now I realize that as you get older it can be many places at once. I guess a lot of us live with a gentle tugging in our chest, pulling us back to places we miss.

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Pumpkin Soup

This recipe is adapted from a recipe for the pumpkin soup that I had at a Thriftway grocery store while up in Seattle. Soup, at a grocery store! And it was delicious.

I generally don’t like thick soup, so I thin this out with more stock and water (instead of 1/2 and 1/2) than the original recipe calls for. I like to serve this pumpkin soup as a side, instead of as a main course.  A cup of this creamy soup is delicious next to kale salad and/or a juicy pork chop. The gentle, slightly sweet pumpkin flavor is really kid friendly. To my own bowl, I like to add a spicy drizzle of Sriracha hot sauce.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 teaspoon grated or finely chopped ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 tsp ground coriander
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
15 ounce can (1 1/2 cups) canned pumpkin
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

Instructions:

Saute onion and ginger in olive oil over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Add turmeric and coriander and saute a minute more then whisk in the stock, brown sugar and pumpkin. Simmer rapidly for 5 minutes.

Slowly whisk in the evaporated milk. Simmer 5 minutes.

Use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree the soup until silky-smooth. Return to the pot and then adjust the consistency as desired. I add 1 to 2 cups of water to thin it out; as I said above, I don’t like super-thick soup.  I then add some salt and pepper to punch up the flavor.

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Lentil Soup for a Summer Cold

tissueBe thankful for the barrier between us right now, the hard computer screens and the world wide web behind them. I am a sneezing, sniffling, coughing mess.  O and I have had a cold-exchange going on since about December. Here’s our monthly routine: She goes to preschool then comes home and wakes up in the night with a fever that turns into a head cold 2 days later. Two days after that, reliably, just as she’s feeling better I wake up feeling horrible.

I am here to tell you that those haunting words from other parents with toddlers are true. When your kid starts preschool, you will be sick all the time. I know, you think that you’re different. You wash  your hands! And eat greens! And take a multi-vitamin! But there is no way to avoid it.

If anyone could tell me how long this lasts I’d be grateful. Is the first year you throw your child together with a bunch of other runny-nosed little kids the worst year? Or is this going to continue all the way through grade school? The thing about these colds is that they’re not over with a few sneezes and a few lethargic days. They are whoppers. Kid colds are  pretty much the worst colds I’ve had in as long as I can remember. The constant onslaught of flus and colds and other illnesses that kids bring home has to be one of the hardest parts of being a parent. It affects everything: work, home life, sleep, happiness, ambition, my general outlook of the world.

When your child is sick and then you follow, it pretty much wipes out your life for a good two weeks. I feel like the meager reserves of energy I have when I’m sick go towards taking care of O. What’s left dribbles down into work, doing just enough to keep things going without getting completely behind (or fired). The drip or two of energy that’s left goes to my poor husband, who has seen me dragging around the house in pajamas, a faint aroma of Vicks Vapor Rub wafting behind me, more often lately than I’d like.

Yesterday, feeling crappy and stressed,  I made myself list 5 things I was thankful for. The list was so easy to come up with that I immediately felt better. Life wasn’t so bad after all. This cold will pass. I have much to be thankful for. Like a husband who still loves me when I smell like Vicks Vapor Rub and can’t hold a conversation about anything remotely interesting. Yesterday, this lovely man of mine took  O out for the afternoon so I could rest.  I dozed for awhile and then became restless and hungry. I started dreaming about a bowl of hot, spicy, nourishing soup that would clear my sinuses and restore my energy.

But when you’re the mom, who makes you soup when you’re sick?

I moped out to the kitchen and then realized I had all the ingredients I needed to make Four Corners Lentil Soup from My New Roots.  This is a super-simple soup, one that took only 10 minutes to throw in a pot. It simmered while I went back to bed.  We ate it yesterday and then again today for lunch.

I skipped the cayenne, since I was hoping O would eat the soup too (she did, a little) and I doused my own bowl with a good amount of Sriracha. It’s a great soup for when you’re sick, but if you work from home it’s something to throw together mid-day for lunch even when you’re well. I can see pureeing this soup up for an infant. I might change it every once in awhile by adding some coconut milk or spinach.

So that’s all I’ve got for you today. Someone else’s soup recipe and a glimpse into my sad little life. But it will have to be enough. That’s the mantra I tell myself when I’m getting through the day as parent under the weather. I’ll do the best I can and it will have to be enough.

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