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Curried Butternut Squash Soup

November 8, 2011
By Wendy Monro - Simply Food Writer

Lately, it seems like our kids want to spend more and more time away from my husband and me. Gone are the days when Jack calls me up at 10 p.m. asking if I could pick him up from the sleep over. I actually liked that. Now, I get, "What, you're coming to get me already?" and it's two days later. Daphne doesn't like to paint her nails and do a facial mask with me anymore. She'd prefer to text and instant message people when she is home.

No longer do they want to just chill out with us and have "pajama day". We used to watch movies all day long until it was dark out. We'd eat popcorn and sip hot chocolate. I knew this day would come. That doesn't mean I don't miss it. I secretly like it if they get into a little trouble and I have to say, "Well, I guess you have to stay home Friday night instead of skating with your friends." Is that so wrong?

Raising children comes in phases and I am entering the teenage phase at full speed.

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Curried butternut squash soup with lime cream and a sprig of mint.

This is the phase when my role (in their minds) becomes irrelevant (unless they want something). However, this is the time when my role is extremely relevant and I need to be more vigilant than ever because they are getting a lot more freedom. I'm still mom and they still need me, albeit differently. I'm learning.

There is a bright silver lining encircling this particular phase. In the midst of my hectic days of raising teenagers, running them around to sporting and music events, cooking and cleaning, sometimes I find myself with a day at home with only my husband at my side. These moments are magical, quiet, lazy and peaceful.

When these times arrive, it's like the world slows down and I get to breathe and take it all in. Claud and I watch the movies we want to watch (in our pajamas), eat the food we like to eat, we don't listen to any whining or complaining and we just enjoy each other's company, alone.

Fact Box

Curried Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Time: one hour

Serves: 6

1 butternut squash

6 cups vegetable stock

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup sour cream (or non-dairy fat free sour "cream")

Juice of one lime

Sprigs of mint for garnish

Preheat oven to 375. Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place face down on a baking tray. Pour in about 1/4 inch of water. Bake for forty minutes. Thirty minutes into cooking, heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onions and garlic and saute for ten minutes. Cut butternut squash into one inch pieces and scoop the inside away from the skin. Pour these pieces into the pot. Add vegetable broth. Add curry. Simmer for ten minutes. Pour contents into the blender in small batches. Pour into a large bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix the lime juice into the sour cream. Add a dollop to each bowl with a sprig of mint.

Today was one of those days. It was a cold and rainy morning. The kids spent the previous night sleeping at friend's houses. Claud and I (after sleeping in very late) decided to drive up to Mt. Charleston (the kids NEVER want to go there) for lunch. It's beautiful this time of year. We felt like we were on vacation. We were seated at a quiet table by the fire with a view of the snow-dusted mountains.

We were able to catch up on everything that has been going on in our lives without interruption and without censoring anything from our children. Having this romantic lunch reminded me of how much I love my husband's company and the time we get to spend together.

When we returned to our house, we still had an hour or so before we picked up the kids. I decided to cook what we would eat for dinner. Claud took a nap because the house was so peaceful and quiet. We never get to nap! I looked around at the food available for dinner. There was a butternut squash sitting in a bowl on my counter wanting desperately to be paid attention to. It had been there for at least a week. I bought it at the market and didn't really know what to do with it. I was nervous about cutting it open. It looked so solid and difficult. I decided to go for it.

Years ago, on an extremely cold Christmas evening in England, my sister-in-law, Charlie, cooked this soup as part of our merry meal. It was delicious. I decided to try to recreate it for us to eat this evening. First, I made some homemade vegetable broth with the vegetable clippings I save in the freezer for this very purpose.

Then, I cut that bad boy (butternut squash) in half. It wasn't that difficult. I roasted it in the oven and sauted onions and garlic in the meantime. Once I added the butternut squash, all it needed was seasonings and blending. I decided to add a dollop of sour cream (non-fat and dairy free). Before we could eat it, I had to go pick up the kids.

Daphne spent the drive from her friend's house complaining about her school.

Then, as we walked into the door, Jack saw the soup and said, "What? We are not eating that for dinner!" The kids were back with their whining and complaining and I couldn't have been happier. The house was once again full of noise and life. The childless vacation Claud and I were enjoying came to an end. It was fun while it lasted, but I was pleased to have my regular hectic life back. I ate my delicious soup with a smile on my face and contentment deep inside my soul.



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