A Big Hug From A Bowl of Soup

October 11, 2018
A simple squash soup - squash, carrots, potatoes, fall spices, and orange juice are pureed to make this fall favorite

“I took myself out for ramen at lunch today.  It was like getting a big hug from a bowl of soup”   ~ Overheard at the office

A simple squash soup - squash, carrots, potatoes, fall spices, and orange juice are pureed to make this fall favorite

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Fall then

— —

“Why you walkin' around in your pajamas?”

That's what the man with the cane asked me in the lobby this morning.  I told him it wasn't really my pajamas, but a new-to-me dress and that I'd look a bit more put together if my cat hadn't gone missing

“Did you get it from the pajama department?”

“Consignment store.  Have you seen him?  Tabby colored, maybe a little bit tubby (but we won't talk about that).  Goes by Lucy”

“Rode the service elevator down about five minutes ago,”  He winks.  “I'm sure he's given you lots of good stories.”

Lucy – October 2018

Last week, a friend who saved me this summer when I really needed help, lost her job

She calls late at night after everyone in her house is asleep.  I ask what else she needs for today.  “Just some words.”

“Me too” is what I thought

A simple squash soup - squash, carrots, potatoes, fall spices, and orange juice are pureed to make this fall favorite A simple squash soup - squash, carrots, potatoes, fall spices, and orange juice are pureed to make this fall favorite


Books read:  Heartburn + The Alchemist + Blue Highways

Next up?  A recommendation from either Seth Godin or George Raveling

On building community:  There are some pretty cool people who live in my building that I'd love to get to know better.  So I've decided to start a cookbook club(!)  Have you been to one?  Any good cookbook recommendations?  I'm thinking of choosing one of the latest for fall

Loving:  These bowls for work lunches

Now that the weather's turned chilly:  The jacket I've been wearing everywhere

An especially big hug:  for anyone out there who's feeling lonely or blue

When a friend brings you apples:  mini apple and honey pizzas are a great idea for dinner

Watched a million times:  Anthony Bourdain's last interview

In the kitchen this weekend:  a noodle bowl and/or sticky bourbon-glazed meatloaf

From my gratitude journal:    “There was finally, I knew, only rupture and hurt and falling short between all persons, but the best revenge was to turn your life into a small gathering of miracles.  If I could not be anchored and profound, I would try, at least, to be kind.”     ~ Lorrie Moore

Gray's Lake – October 2018

This is a simple soup I made last week, with squash from the farmers market.  Nothing fancy, just a pureed squash soup with an orange twist.  Fall spices for depth, some carrots, potato for body, garlic, and onions.

There was plenty leftover, so one night I decided to pack a picnic lunch and ride my bike to the park.  I poured the soup into a Mason jar, and it ended up being the ideal companion for a chunk of homemade gluten-free bread my neighbor left outside my door as a house-warming gift

I found myself on a shady picnic table, and the nice ladies right beside me donated a spoon to my cause.  It was a near perfect Iowa dinner: the sun setting, clear skies, good food, a breeze coming off of the lake, people chatting as they walked by on the trail

One of the happiest moments of my week



~ Adapted from The New York Times

Orange-Scented Winter Squash and Carrot Soup


  • Bouquet Garni
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed (or ¼ tsp ground cardamom)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 10 peppercorns
  • Strips of zest from an orange

  • Soup
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ lb carrots, diced
  • 2 lbs winter squash, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups water, chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 medium potato
  • Salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice (or additional stock or water)
  • pinch cayenne (optional, depending on your heat tolerance)

  • Garnish
  • ¼ cup cooked black quinoa
  • drizzle toasted pistachio oil


  • Bouquet Garni
  • Cut a square of cheesecloth big enough to make a bag for the spices, herbs, and orange peel.
  • Place all of them on the cheesecloth before folding the ends over, rolling it up, and tying it tightly with a kitchen string

  • Soup
  • In a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, warm the olive oil before adding the onion and carrots. Cook, stirring, until tender ( ~ 5 min )
  • Add the squash and garlic; Cook, stirring until fragrant ( ~ 1 min )
  • Add the water (or stock), potato, bouquet garni, a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the squash is tender ( ~ 45 min - 1 hour )
  • Remove the bouquet garni, but first, press it against the side of the pot to extract the liquid
  • Purée the soup with either a hand or regular blender. Return to the pot and whisk in the orange juice
  • Adjust seasonings and heat through

  • Garnish and Serve
  • Toss the quinoa with a tsp of pistachio oil
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a sprinkling of quinoa. Drizzle a little more oil over each bowl before serving
Serves: 4
Nutrition + Show
Calories 274
Total Fat 7.5g
Saturated Fat 1g
Carbohydrates 44.4g
Fiber 10.7g
Sugars 13.3g
Protein 4.5g
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  • Reply Sabrina October 12, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I have not yet made soup! This looks super fantastic!

  • Reply Jacinta October 12, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    I just made this tonight for dinner, and it is soooo good!! I had to refrain from eating half of it at once.

    Thank you so much, and I really enjoy your blog.

  • Reply Melissa October 12, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    I live in Miami, so we do not have much of a winter. However, reading a few blogs from lovely ladies like yourself, I get emerged into the fall and winter feel. I want to enjoy all the great comfort foods like everyone else, and I have been looking for a squash soup to try. I will definitely have to try this out, it sounds absolutely amazing

  • Reply Robin October 13, 2018 at 1:07 am

    Made this yesterday (despite it being Spring here in Queensland – there are always lots of lovely local pumpkins all year round) and it was delicious. Even better today for lunch. Thank you for posting it.

  • Reply Monidipa October 13, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    5 stars
    This might be controversial, but with roasted kabocha, I don’t peel it at all except for the really scabby bits. In my experience, it softens completely, adds a little color contrast, and doesn’t make any noticeable taste or texture difference in the finished dish.

  • Reply Gena October 13, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    What timing! I was just going through different squash soup recipes to try this weekend. I was thrilled to see a post from you (always am), and even more thrilled by your words. I’ll have to try this one for sure

  • Reply Lexa Fish October 13, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    5 stars
    Okay this recipe sounds AMAZING. I have to go out and get the ingredients for this. Also, I’ve never seen this blogging format before, its so dreamy and makes me feel like I’m getting to really know someone. This post made me feel, warm. Going to sit down with a bowl of that soup tomorrow for dinner.

  • Reply David Elliott October 14, 2018 at 10:56 am

    5 stars
    That’s great you have been able to reach out to others in need as well. I love the list of things here, and the soup looks pretty amazing as well. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, so I am all up for the me too listen and hug. Hope things are going well for you this week. But after this I am going to have to check out the recipe for the apple pizza. Sounds to die for . . .and I know for a fact my daughter would want it.

  • Reply Jade October 14, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    My tactic for difficult to peel squash is to avoid the challenge altogether. I simply roast the squash after cutting it in half and scoop it out of its peel. An extra step sure, but the soup comes together even quicker after the fact.

  • Reply Elizabeth O October 15, 2018 at 5:31 am

    5 stars
    I adore a nice bowl of soup in the fall weather, there is nothing quite like it. I love how you describe it as a hug, that really made me smile because it’s so true!

  • Reply Nina October 15, 2018 at 7:31 am

    These kinds of soups are my favorite! I love a good and thick vegetable purée. It reminds me of a seasonal soup served at Panera.

  • Reply Abira October 16, 2018 at 3:27 am

    5 stars
    I’m glad you posted this. Saw the empty container on Instagram. And thought, hot damn, we’ve been left in the cold on this recipe. Except a few hours later we weren’t

  • Reply Blair October 16, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    5 stars
    OMG your Lucy is too naught guarding her stash! Is she always like that?
    Ah I can’t say NO for this soup, truly warms every heart.

  • Reply Sigrid October 19, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    5 stars
    That soup really looks comforting. You take really nice photos Ali. 😀 I agree, a good soup feels like a hug. Now, I want a ramen, too. haha

  • Reply Gene October 21, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Huh. Today, I spent three hours baking, scooping, and pureeing winter squash. (And I have three Animals running around me while I’m doing this. Phew.) I grew many pounds of winter squash in my garden this year, and aside from looking very cheerful, the squashes also taste awesome. Especially the cute little pie pumpkins. I froze all the pureed stuff I made today (for pies and bread and some killer cake), but I was really hankering for some soup. I kind of make squash soup like you do, but the black quinoa garnish on the top? Yum!
    Thank you! I shall make the soup tomorrow, if I’m not totally burnt out on cooking squash by then…

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