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The Best Ingredient!

Today I am pretending to be a food blogger because I prepared a soup recently that was more than just delicious, it was a complete act of gratitude from seed to sup. The board of directors for Gaia’s Temple meets once a month and since we meet at 6 p.m., we take turns providing dinner. This not only keeps us well fed so we can continue to be brilliant, but it’s a demonstration of how wonderfully ideas and plans come to fruition among those who break bread together. December was my turn and I wanted to do something special to thank the amazing, dedicated, loyal, supportive people with whom I work in service all year. I began ruminating on what to cook a few weeks ahead of time. I like to be prepared. And then my eyes lit on the bowl of remaining squash that I grew in my garden this year and I knew. I'd prepare that wonderful staple of deep winter meals: Squash Soup!

squash 2014_edited.JPG

Delicata, dumpling, pumpkin, butternut and a few that had obviously cross-pollinated that I came to call delapumpkin! So beautiful. Just like the women on my board, each so different although we all belong to the same genus.

Time to cook. I cut and seeded the squash to get the whole thing going. I love the tough skin of winter squash, the satisfying thunk of the knife slicing through to the cutting board. The different shades of gold and orange. And then the aroma! Particularly the butternut- spun sugar hovered over a deep earthy note. I admit to standing there getting my snoot full for a moment or two before continuing.

Cutting and seeding the squash.JPG

Next, I baked them at 350 degrees with nothing but a bit of water on the bottom of the baking dishes. Soon the house smelled divine. I kept poking them with a fork and about 45 minutes later, it pierced the now softened skins easily. I let them cool until I could handle them and scooped out the tender flesh.

Preparing squash for baking.JPG

This is all that was left.

Squash skins.JPG

Into my compost pile. The remains of one thing will feed the next.

Compost the remains .JPG

Meanwhile, I sautéed chopped onion, celery, fresh ginger and garlic in coconut oil on the bottom of my soup pot. I added the steamed squash, chopped carrots, dandelion root, Himalayan sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and covered it with home-made vegetable broth and a bit of almond milk. Did I mention that everything I used was organic? Including the herbs from my garden: dried oregano, tarragon, basil and thyme, a bit of fresh rosemary and three small leaves of shredded sage. Finally, I tossed in a teaspoon of hot pepper flakes for the kick that warms the belly.

The cooking begins.JPG

A slow simmer for just over an hour. A melding of flavors until this:

Cooking it down.JPG

Finally, I pureed my soup in small batches in the food processor.

The puree process.JPG

Et voilia! Squash Soup du Jour. Brought to the meeting in my crock pot to keep it hot. I served it with gluten free bread and herbed butter.

Finished Soup.JPG

All along the process of cooking, I thought about each of the women my culinary creation would serve, and with whom I serve in our Temple all year long. A years worth of beautiful memories bubbled up like when the soup began to boil. My heart was full as I remembered our laughter, our shared passion for the importance of a Temple for the Divine Feminine, our exchange of ideas, and their unflagging support of our mission, but also of me personally at the helm. I thought of how I couldn’t do it without them, and how this little soup was a mere token of my appreciation for their championship. I wish I’d thought to capture their faces of their first sip! Unabashedly, I tell you it was delicious, the flavors complex; creamy, sweet, and savory with a hint of heat at the finish. But the best ingredient, the one we all use mightily in our work together and especially part of my no-longer-secret-recipe? Love!

Thank you April, Carol, Noemi, Katie, Brandyn and Corinna for another year of excellent stewardship and heartwarming friendship. Heaps of gratitude and much love to you always!

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