Guilt to Grace with Butternut Squash Soup

When I made the decision to take the leap from my corporate life and take time to know myself and who I want to be, I expected to have feelings ranging from excitement to confusion. I expected a sense of loss, and feelings of fear and self-doubt. I also anticipated that it would be a process to work through these feeling and figure out where I’m headed. It is a process, and I’m making my way. What I never anticipated was the guilt that would bubble up in the process. Yes. Guilt. Are you trying to stop conforming to societal expectations? Yes! Guilty!

I feel guilty for not being productive in the traditional sense. People often ask me what I’m doing, or what’s my plan. I feel guilty that I am not going to a job each day. I sometimes have feelings of guilt just for giving myself the gift of time. Is this self-care, or just selfishness? Then there is guilt for putting lots of play into my day where work used to be. I play at putting words on the page. I play in nature or at the beach. I go out and play with family and friends. I play with art. I play with my camera. I play with food…which feels like art to me.

While playing with food, I began making butternut squash soup. It’s a favorite and I wanted to master making a healthy version. Making the soup is a practice that allows me to be both playful and productive at the same time. Here I find a middle ground where I am learning to drop the guilt and replace it with grace. Practicing grace allows me to approve of what I am doing and not doing; to treat myself with kindness and acceptance. Grace comforts like a warm bowl of soup on a winter’s day.

In each batch of soup, I create something wholesome, infused with seasonings of love and large amounts of kindness, and I delight in sharing it with others. The soup is just what I want my life to be, healthful, flavorful, kind, full of grace, and nourishing to others and to myself. It doesn’t come out exactly the same each time and there is comfort in the inconsistency along with excitement at each first taste. I know it may be slightly different yet delicious all the same. A bit like life…don’t you think?

I’m sharing my recipe for moving from guilt to grace with butternut squash soup. It is, like me, a work in progress. I hope you’ll try it. What’s your secret recipe for moving from guilt to grace?

Butternut Squash Soup

2 small/medium or l large butternut squash, sliced in half and seeded
3-4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
1 medium carrot scrubbed and diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion diced
1” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ – 1 tsp. chili paste, or hot sauce of your choice (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat over to 400.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash halves cut side down on the paper. Roast in the over 30 minutes or until tender when poked through with a fork. Remove and set aside to cool.

Heat a large Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and a little of the vegetable stock. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add a little stock to prevent sticking as needed. Add garlic and sauté another minute.

Scoop the roasted butternut meat from the skins and put into the pot with the onions and carrots. Add the ginger, chili paste, and 2-3 cups of the vegetable stock. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. You should have enough stock to cover all the ingredients and thin it out a little bit. Not soupy but not too thick either.

Cover and let simmer on med-low for 20 minutes. Open the cover and, if the mixture is very thick, thin out with more of the vegetables stock. Simmer another 10 minutes or so. The carrots should be fully cooked. Turn the soup off, keep covered and let cool.

Once the soup has cooled a bit, puree using an immersion blender right in the pot or in batches with a blender to create a smooth, golden soup. Serve warm. Soup can be garnished in anyway you choose…try toasted pepitas or pine nuts, or a little chopped cilantro. This soup has no dairy and can be frozen for later enjoyment.

Happy trails…

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