The first time I made this particular soup was for our dear friend Kay Bradway (1910-2011). She was a Jungian analyst extraordinaire who brought the practice of sand play therapy to American psychiatry after a trip to Europe in 1932, when Hitler was mounting his forces even as bon vivance imbued the streets and cafes of Europe. Flash forward to the occasion, we were bringing her lunch and she was in the mood for some soup. She was not keen for spicy foods, so I made a simple pureed butternut squash soup and garnished it with fennel fronds from the yard for color and extra aroma.
Long a family friend on Rick’s side, she was going on 101 years old at the time. As I was making the soup, I thought about Kay and her contribution to psychoanalysis, and how doing as I was doing was in fact a therapy for me. As she explained, sand play therapy is based on a sand box which is basically a three dimensional, open “canvas” within which to draw in the sand and arrange figurines, chosen from the therapist’s collection, according to whim. It is that doing that is the calming, the healing, not anything the person has to say about what she/he is doing and not anything the therapist has to say either. It’s in the quiet, concentrated doing.
Butternut squash, one of the most delicious of the “winter” squashes , is available much of the year. With some determination, the tough outer skin can be peeled away, then the squash cut into chunks, cooked, and pureed into a silken, nutritious soup. Kay loved it.
Makes 6 cups
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 to 2 1/2-pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh fennel fronds or fresh dill, for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the onions and cook slowly until well-wilted, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the ginger, sage, and salt. Add the squash, broth, and water, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a brisk simmer and cook until the squash is soft enough to mash, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
3. Puree the soup in a food processor or blender (the blender will turn out a more silken texture).
4. To serve, reheat the soup on the stove top or in the microwave. Ladle into individual bowls, sprinkle on the chopped herb, and garnish with a lime wedge.