pumpkin soup

I love life. (How’s that for a powerful opening statement?) But really, I do. I love it because every day brings new insights and discoveries. I love it because just when you think you’ve got a few things figured out and have picked a nice solid slice of ground on which to rest for a moment, along comes a 5.6 earthquake to rattle your foundations. And the walls are shaking and your cat jumps four feet straight up in the air and shoots off down the hall like a cartoon character. And you’re laughing (almost crying) alone on the kitchen floor and thinking that nothing, really, is as solid as it seems. And thank goodness.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite teachings by Pema Chodron from her book: “When Things Fall Apart”:

“We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn’t have any fresh air. There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience…

The essence of life is that it’s challenging. Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”

So what does all of this have to do with those pretty fall vegetables up there? Indeed. Not long after my weekend of living on cornflakes and a lust for life, I returned home to a week of cold foggy days, scant motivation and, yes, even a touch of loneliness. My experience was punctuated by moments of connection and productivity, to be sure, but overall I was feeling like I needed life to greet me at the door with a big hug and warm cup of tea. A dear old friend of mine has also been struggling this week – nursing a broken heart and reflecting on the changes that a recent (proverbial) earthquake in her life might mean for her future plans. Between my general malaise and her current state, we made a fine pair.

I decided that what we needed was some yoga, a homemade meal and some trashy television, in that order. I reflected for a moment on the perfect meal. It needed to be comforting, sweet and grounding. It needed to be quick and easy to prepare (we’d be hungry after our 6pm yoga class), seasonal, and warm. Given these requirements, I was pretty sure I was talking soup, and that it would involve some root vegetables and probably some greens (both found in abundance at the farmer’s market right now). Given that yesterday was Halloween, I thought it would be nice to throw pumpkin in the mix: who doesn’t love a pumpkin, after all?

I found a recipe for Pumpkin Miso Soup from one of my favorite tea spots, Samovar, and modified it (because that’s what I do). I’ll post my version below. The original can be found here.


2″ square kombu seaweed
3 to 3.5 cups boiling water
2 parsnips, chopped into 1/2″ cubes
1 japanese sweet potato, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 onion, sliced
1 can organic pumpkin puree (or make your own)
4 heaping tablespoons of organic red miso
1.5 cups kale, chopped (I used baby kale – use the most tender variety you can find)
2 T of fresh parsley

Add kombu, parsnips, onion and sweet potato to boiling water, boil for 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree to the pot, reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove 1/4 cup of the soup (allow to cool slightly) and mix with miso, making a miso concentrate. Add miso to soup and cook on very low heat for another few minutes. Do not boil after adding the miso or you will lesson the nutritional benefits! Garnish each bowl with a healthy handful of shredded kale and parsley and enjoy!

I served this soup with some cashew-date mochi and a glass of ginger kombucha. It tasted like love. We snuggled up with an episode of Gossip Girl (hey, I said trashy TV), and felt pretty gosh darn content.

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Listened to: Mike Seeger: Early Southern Guitar Sounds

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