Do you remember those adorable old Campbell’s soup commercials, where the snowman comes inside the house and a mom serves him soup, only for the warm broth to melt away the snow and reveal a smiling little boy? That’s how I’ve felt (in spirit) the past few days as this year, even more so than in the recent past, autumn has hit us hard. And by autumn, I really mean a premature taste of winter. We went from 80 and humid down to 60 and breezy here in NYC, then I went to Miami for more of the former (my fault, not Nature’s), only to return to wind chills in the 30s that made my pom-pom earmuffs more necessity than accessory. Needless to say, my body felt pretty out of whack, even snow-woman-like, for a while just from the task of keeping up with the outside temperature. When the body is being pulled in variable directions, whether by God’s hand or the internal hand that pushes us to do more, be more, have more, etc., the important thing is to stay grounded in nourishing routines. Anything from gentle restorative yoga to good old fashioned sleep will work, but I find the most instant gratification in turning to my diet for body-first healing. Root vegetables are, naturally, essential to any sort of grounding diet—they’re literally pulled from the earth, and their soft, slightly sweet, and nutrient-dense compositions make them easy to digest, let alone pleasant. I tend to eat a very grounding diet all year around, vata that I am, but when autumn—the season of wind and space and air, when change is le mot du jour as Nature prepares itself for the end of another cycle—comes around, I can’t get enough. In this ultra-grounding soup, sweet squash and slightly astringent cauliflower combine to form a light yet creamy and smooth meal that makes a cold belly say “ahhh,” just like that snow-boy’s in the commercial. The spice combination provided is fairly mild, so I chose to add a bit of Korean Gochujang to my bowl for a kick. The recipe also makes a lot, but even with a week’s worth of leftovers I never got tired of it; if you do, though, you can always freeze a batch for the next cold spell around the corner, and feel reassured you’ll have something on hand when the ground underneath you feels like it’s shifting.
Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 medium head of cauliflower roughly chopped into florets (including stem)
- 1 medium butternut squash cubed (keep skin and seeds)
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. cumin
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp. white miso
- 4 cups water
- 1-1/2 cups cooked chick peas
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 6 oz. fresh spinach
- Toasted sesame oil and seeds for garnish
- In a large pot or dutch oven, sauté the oil, spices, and garlic cloves until fragrant (not burned). Then add the chopped cauliflower and squash, stirring to coat in spices.2. Add water and miso and bring to a boil. Season with a healthy grind of fresh salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft.3. Add the chick peas and nutritional yeast; stir to combine. Remove from heat, and blend until very smooth with an immersion blender (or, if using a food processor or blender, allow to cool to room temperature). If you like a thinner consistency, you can add more water by 1/2-cup increments.4. Add spinach and stir until completely incorporated and the spinach is wilted.5. Serve with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds for a boost of savory umami flavor.