Friday, October 30, 2009

Mindful Pumpkin Soup

My significant other, Beth Berila, is a feminist scholar and a yogini. Her work is about the commonalities between feminism and yoga, and meditation is one of her tools. Beth studies the mind/body connection and its power to help people—especially young women—live intentional, self-directed lives.

She also loves pumpkin soup. (You were scared I wasn't going to talk about food, weren't you?)

So, to honor Beth's work, her importance in my life, and the deliciousness of pumpkin, here's a cooking meditation to feed body and spirit.

Mindful Pumpkin Soup
This makes a ton of soup. Freeze some, or use a smaller pumpkin and cut the rest of the ingredients in half. The meditation is Daoist, not Buddhist, but I believe it will do the trick.

1 pumpkin, about jack-o'-lantern sized
1 quart mushroom broth
3 cloves garlic
2 4" sprigs of rosemary
5 or 6 leaves of sage
A pinch of summer savory
5-10 black peppercorns
2 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T soy sauce
1 c red wine
1 cayenne pepper
1½ cups orange juice
1 pint cream, milk, or soy milk
Salt to taste

1. Cut up the pumpkin, remove seeds and string, and roast the pieces in a 400° oven until a fork easily pierces the center of each piece (about 40-60 minutes). Reflect on how your jack-o'-lantern's cycle is not exhausted, but is renewed as soup.
2. Peel the pumpkin and place in a heavy stockpot. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the juice and milk. Simmer until the garlic is soft and easy to mash with a spoon, about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, contemplate the changing seasons: Your pumpkin sprouted in the spring, grew all summer, brought you happiness in the autumn, and now will feed you in winter.
3. When the simmering is done, purée the soup in a blender. You will need to do several batches. Return the purée to the pot over low heat. Stir in the orange juice. As you do, think about how the citrus lightens and brightens the deep, rich winter flavors of the roasted pumpkin. The soup holds lightness and brightness, depth and richness in a dynamic balance of deliciousness.
4. Add the milk and salt to taste. Heat, but do not boil, and serve. Be fully present to the comfort and pleasure of pumpkin soup.



  1. Wow -- great flavors going on in this soup. I'm loving the thought of the sage and rosemary... and the balsamic vinegar and orange juice are such nice surprises!

    Sounds like the perfect way to spend a mindful weekend afternoon to me! (And if I were Beth, I'd be so honored by this post)

  2. Hi, Lo--

    She WAS honored. This soup is one of my favorite ways to console myself for winter weather, and a big reason why I draw all my jack-o-lanterns.

    If you cook it, come back and tell me how you liked it!


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