Busy Day Butternut Squash Soup

I’m a food lover, writer and mother to two little boys. Before becoming a mom (and for a little while after), I spent 7 years at Food Network, producing minisites for The Next Food Network Star and Iron Chef America, and traveling the country in search of the biggest food trends for an online show. I planned vacations around restaurants I wanted to try, had friends over for dinner regularly, and made chicken tikka masala, short ribs, fresh mint ice cream and other recipes that took a long time.

Things are a little different these days, to say the least. Now, I can usually be found chasing Nico, my 2 ½-year-old (while wearing Leo, my 5-month old, in an Ergo carrier). I don’t get much sleep. I can build a mean house out of Magna Tiles and Legos and I know an incredible amount of children’s books and songs by heart. But no matter how much my life has changed, or how exhausted I am, I’m still devoted to eating well. At the end of a long day filled with diaper changes, trips to the playground and the occasional tantrum (or two, or three), food soothes me. Nothing feels better than to dig into something homemade.

Like most moms, I wish I had more time to cook. Gone are my days of complicated recipes. Now I need to make good food fast. I’ll find myself with an extra 15 minutes and try to think of a recipe I can start and, hopefully, finish later.

This is exactly what happened a few days ago. I was knee-deep in my family’s winter clothes, trying to find space for everything in our apartment. Leo was napping and my husband and Nico were at the park. I’d been swapping shorts with sweaters all morning and was starting to get stressed out. My thoughts turned to lunch, a welcome distraction. A butternut squash had been sitting on our counter for almost a week. Taking a much-needed break, I quickly cut it into a few chunks, drizzled olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper on top, and put it in the oven to roast.

When Daniel and Nico came home an hour later, the squash was ready. It was one of the first chilly days of the year and I wanted something warm and comforting. A recipe for Curry Butternut Squash Soup with Pistachios transformed my roasted veggies in just a few quick steps.

With coconut milk, cayenne and curry, the soup was sweet and spicy. I loved how the flavors lingered after each bite. Nico likes all his food cold and still shies away from spices, so we set some aside for him and added the cayenne and curry after. The recipe also called for pistachios, which we didn’t have, but coconut shavings toasted quickly in a pan were a good substitute and added some texture.

Miraculously, the boys took naps at the same time that day and Daniel and I found ourselves sharing a delicious, and unexpected, lunch together. We dipped pieces of spelt bread slathered with butter in our big bowls of soup, savored the silence, and made sure to have seconds. When Nico and Leo woke up, our bowls were empty and the afternoon quickly became busy again. I finished packing up all our summer clothes, still thinking about the soup. Luckily, I’d used a big butternut squash, so it was easy to double the recipe. This gave us something I really love: leftovers.

Lia Wiedemann is a writer who loves food and her two little boys. She leads Brooklyn food tours for new moms, and shares favorite recipes and restaurants on her blog This Little Piglet.

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