I love winter squash. She’s the belle of the fall. Like the mice that fill their larders in children’s books, so too is ours filled with several types of winter squash, apples, onions and potatoes to last through winter’s grip.
When something is delicious, it makes us salivate. The Italians say “fa l’aqualina in boca”- it’s mouthwatering. It makes me want to suck the juices out of mouth by swallowing hard. Have you ever had that experience when something tastes so good? Taste sends pleasure signals to the brain. I remember as a child it would happen to me at my grandmother’s house in Clay County, Alabama when I ate certain foods from the garden like black eyed peas, corn, even tomatoes. It’s a sign of mineral rich food. It was like I just wanted more. Mineral rich food, coming from mineral rich soil, make the body-mind sing. The senses get fired up. Real food turns the body on.
This recipe has the base of a butternut squash soup. The second part is pressure-cooked rice and aduki beans cooked together; a classic macrobiotic dish. I thought of presenting it differently as an island in the middle of an orange lake with a shitake mushroom sauté on top.
I was once a medicinal cook. I studied medicinal cooking from a macrobiotic and natural food point of view with Rebecca Wood; author, teacher and now a Tibetan Buddhist nun called Ani Nyma. Cooking in tune with the seasons and according to one’s temperament and need was my specialty. I cooked for pregnant women and new mothers. People who were ill and people who were healthy and making good choices. It was nothing but the farm-to-table movement that just hadn’t happened yet. This foundation furthered me into creating my culinary adventures around the world. I started my programs in Florence, Italy in 1992.
I was attracted to the SlowFood movement and attended my first convivium in Torino, in 1993. I felt their message was exactly what I was doing already and in line with my philosophy. “In protection of our rights to pleasure” was the bi-line. I planted seeds and held the first convivium for the SlowFood movement in America in Boulder, Colorado in 1996 in a tee pee with beer expert Charlie Papazian. I was forever imprinted with SF values. Pleasure in this sense is on the palette. Real food grown responsibly and cooked simply.
Here for instance, are the benefits of of this recipe.
The orange flesh of the butternut, kabocha and buttercup is potent in beta-carotene not only rich in vitamin A, but minerals, fiber and deliciousness. It is known to be low on the glycemic level aiding in the digestion of sugars, therefore, strengthening the spleen and pancreas and a good food for diabetics. Short grain brown rice is high in Vit E and good for the lungs. Aduki beans are the best for detoxifying the renal organs due to their cleansing power. Even the bean water is good to drink, especially when mixed with a little shoyu (high quality soy sauce). I have added a spice blend of cumin, turmeric, ginger and mustard seeds in both dishes; a blend that compliments and offers anti-inflammatory effects and stimulates circulation. Food Is Medicine. In the middle of a pandemic, it’s incredibly important to strengthen one’s immune system. It will help us to stay strong, guarding against unwanted viruses. They cannot live in an alkaline environment. We try not to attract them.
Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup:
1 butternut squash, cut in half, seeds scooped out, then chop into chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 T ghee (or olive oil or butter)
½ teaspoon of whole mustard seeds
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon of black pepper or three good turns of a pepper mill
Ex virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Put the ghee in the bottom of your soup pot. Add mustard seeds and let them pop. Add ginger and pepper. Add chopped onion and stir. Add a generous pinch of salt. Add squash and saute with the other ingredients. Add water to cover generously but don’t over exaggerate . You want the soup to be not too thin, not too think. Add another generous pinch of salt and let cook for 20 minutes or until the squash is soft. Use a hand wand or a blender/vitamix to blend the soup. Add a drizzle of olive oil to richen. Add soup back to the pot to reheat gently.
Rice and Aduki beans:
This can be cooked in a regular pot although you have to keep your eye on it. A heavy pot is best or a pressure cooker. I have an old Aeturnum that is like an old friend. It’s perfect for cooking grains and beans in good time.
2 cups of short grain brown rice
1 cup of aduki beans
¼ teaspoon of salt
It would be good to soak the beans overnight, but if you can’t, measure 1 cup of the beans into a pan, cover with hot water and let simmer for 15 minutes. Pour over the rice in the pot or pressure cooker. Add the salt, a drizzle of olive oil and put the lid on. Let cook for one hour in a pressure cooker. Bring the pressure down slowly. The rice and bean mixture should be a little dense and sticky.
Optional: Shitake mushroom sauce:
Slice shitake mushrooms and saute with olive oil, parsley, shallot. Splash with Madiera.
1 cup shitake mushrooms
drizzle of olive oil
Splash of Madeira or anything you have or a little water
Assemble soup in a wide bowl with an island of rice and beans in the center. Add mushrooms on top and a scattering of finely chopped parsley.
Here is a version of squash soup on its own. It’s the same as above. This just has a dollop of sheep’s milk yogurt, a touch of lime, a touch of ground chili, a drizzle of olive oil and touch of salt. (Dried rose petals from the garden give a nice effect sprinkled finely on the soup or on your table).
- Hand-hammered copper water jugs from India available on my Shop in the website.
- hand painted bowls from TheaLele pottery coming soon.