Sweet and Savory Butternut Squash Soup

Let's talk about Christmas season goal management, shall we?  It's mid-December, and there's a good chance you need an intervention.  It's ok, I do too.  No judgement.

By now my head is swollen with good intentions (but majorly tall ideas) on how to make the Christmas season full and complete.  Can you blame me?  Christmas music has been on the radio since, like, Halloween.  It's sorta not my fault.

No excuses.  This is an intervention.  It's totally my fault.

Basically, I've become alarmingly pre-occupied with the self-imposed "shoulds" that seem so critical to having a merry Christmas.  Are you like me?  Are we talking the same language?

This can be pretty stressful.  Shocker.

I mean, there are only so many pre-Christmas weekends, yet I should visit with multiple sides of family, I should make quality time for friends old and new, and I should decorate the house like Better Homes and Gardens is coming for a photoshoot.  There is only so much weeknight time and energy, but I should use it  to make cutely-packaged Christmas treats for coworkers, to find that perfect Christmas gift, and to keep up my gym routine in anticipation of a Caramel Pecan Square stress attack (recipe to come soon!).

Yes, sometimes I set the bar a little high. Who's asking?

I have to admit that once again I'm guilty of lofty goal setting this year, when deep down I'm really craving more Caramel Pecan Squares balance and a realistic sense of priority and necessity.

In short, a Christmas reality check.

This brings me to soup.  We'll use this delicious, orange, soul-warming soup as a metaphor for my mid-season lessons learned.  (I have a point, I swear.)

This butternut squash soup is a sweet and savory combination of my favorite spicy and earthy ingredients. Basically it's everything you could want in a bowl of Monday night comfort.  But say you leave out the cinnamon stick and fresh ginger, and opt for a shake of the ground stuff instead?  What if you have yellow potatoes in your fridge, and don't feel like running to the store for sweet ones? 

Total disaster, right?  Might as well not even try?

Not so.  You can easily streamline the ingredients without losing the spirit of the soup, and you can hold onto your sanity knowing that the end result will bring you the peace and joy that it's meant to bring.

Did I completely blow you away with my depth today?

The "shoulds" will always be there.  Sometimes it takes a good soup to put things back into perspective during the nutty times.  I may not have time for custom Christmas cards this year, or to host an open house for the neighbors, but I can make this butternut squash soup for dinner on a Monday night, and I can curl up in front of the fireplace with the one I love.  And I can feel pretty darn good about it.

Sweet and Savory
Butternut Squash Soup
Yields 4-6 servings
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves
1 cinnamon stick
20 oz butternut squash, cubed (I buy the pre-cut squash, otherwise peel and cut one yourself)
1 medium sweet potato, cubed
5 c chicken broth (use veggie broth to make this vegetarian!)
Place a large soup pot over medium heat, and drizzle with the olive oil.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and cinnamon.  Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the squash and sweet potato.  Cook down for another 10 minutes.  The veggies should be soft at this point.

Add the chicken broth, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Discard the cinnamon stick.

Puree the soup using an immersion blender or in batches in your regular blender. 

Season with salt and pepper, and heat through.  Top your soup with sliced almonds, dunk in some crusty bread, and soak up the warmth of your season.

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