Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

I took a yoga class last week.  My first Baptiste Power Yoga class ever.  I've been practicing yoga on and off for several years, but I've never felt a particular sense of commitment to one form or another.  I like Bikram, but it tends to be hard to fit it into my schedule.  Ashtanga is great; I like the idea of building heat from the inside using breath and flowing through the postures.  I've always felt challenged by the classes I've taken, but Baptiste?  Baptiste should be in a category of its own.  It takes the external heat of Bikram and combines it with the internal vinyasa/breath heat of Ashtanga, and it is SO. HARD.  (Also, I just want to mention Om on the Range - fantastic teachers, clean facility, lots of different classes in two different locations, and such a welcoming atmosphere.  I love it!  Go try it - $20 for your first unlimited week!)

Of course, when you leave the class, you barely remember how hard it was because you're practically high with all the endorphins.  Amazing.  I ended up taking 3 classes last week, and I'm desperately looking for a hole in my upcoming schedule so I can go back again.

Isn't it funny how one little decision can make such a difference in the direction of your whole life?  One day, I'm lethargic, eating Chee-tos on the couch and watching 6 episodes of Scrubs in a row.  The next day, I take a yoga class, and it's like I've suddenly regained the ability to take good care of myself!  I come home from yoga, take a shower, put a clay mask on my face, and make myself a nutritious meal. 

Who knew that the basic laws of physics could be so aptly applied to peoples' lives?  Physics was the only math/science class I actually enjoyed in high school.  I liked exploring the explanations of realities that we experience every day but rarely think about.  Evidently interest is not enough, because my inadequate math skills landed me a C in the class (give me a list of vocab words any day), but maybe it worked out.  I'll just apply my limited understanding of physics to yoga, luscious fall soups and life lessons.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

When I was growing up, my mom used to make a dish of roasted bone-in chicken, potatoes, apples and carrots, in a yellowish mustard-honey-curry sauce.  It was a fantastic cool-weather dinner, and was easy on her, too, since it only used one baking dish.  This soup is my take on those same flavors, without the chicken.  To make it truly vegan, replace the honey with agave nectar.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can light coconut milk
2 tart apples (preferably Granny Smith), cored and chopped
salt to taste

Place the olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute, stirring often, until it starts to soften.  Add celery and carrots and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add butternut squash.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are starting to brown slightly on the edges.  Add curry powder, honey, and mustard, and stir well.  Add 2-3 cups of water (depending on how thin you like your soup), stir to combine, and bring soup to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are almost done.  Add apples and garbanzo beans and simmer a few minutes more, until just tender.  Stir in coconut milk at the very end, and season with salt to taste.

This is great by itself, or over brown rice or quinoa for an even heartier meal.

Yield: about 6 servings.

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