Squash, Sage & Apple Soup plus an Autumn Loaf
It has turned quickly. The last of one season is all but forgotten as the cool September showers and moody sky have drifted in. The characteristics that define summer's glory has been washed away with the colours of autumn and rainfall that keeps us locked inside our warm, comfortable homes. It's the beginning of an end. And the start of something both beautiful and charming.
Like the seasons before us, life also undertakes a change this time of year. Old habits and routines undergo a metamorphosis as we adapt to the weather and landscape outside. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. And after a summer of occasional youthfulness and time away, we get back to what real life has waiting for us.
It's hard. That's what makes it real.
My wife, for one. I love her with all my soul. She stirs my drink, so to speak. Everything I do has meaning because of her. And I do most of those things with her in mind. Yet we hit bumps. Everybody does. It's foolish to say otherwise. We have our quirks and idiosyncrasies and we have moments when we don't see eye to eye. We're a thousand miles apart. But that's okay.
A happy wife is vital in a marriage. The saying is something to remember when times aren't as easy as others. It's a friendly reminder when life catches up to us and takes our mind away. Personally, it's like a tap on the shoulder, "Don't forget about your wife. She's what this whole thing is about." And so I make a better effort. And I try to be a better me.
I hear about mothers talking to other mothers and talking glowingly about how great and easy being a mother is. It's not though. I mean, it's not. How could it be? It's probably the hardest job in the world. So why can't we all admit that it's hard. That life's hard. And when someone says "How do you like being a mother?" why can't people reply, "It's the hardest fucking job I've ever had." Even thought you wouldn't trade it for anything. Anyone. It's real. It's truthful. It's perfectly acceptable.
I think we're all afraid to accept being less than perfect. No matter what anybody says, we're all the same. Imperfectly perfect. And although we struggle and adapt and overcome, it's never easy. Nor should it be. We try our best at being a spouse, parent, friend. Anything. But sometimes we come up short. And sometimes we need to realize that it's okay as long as we are honestly giving it our all.
I'm not the best husband in the world. I cook meals for my wife almost every night but that doesn't make me perfect. I know I could help out more. I know I could tell her I love her more. I know that I'm trying my best but sometimes I need to try harder. Love harder. So I will.
Yesterday my wife was out for a shoot. It was the second of back to back full days shooting. I knew it was cold out, miserable out. So I thought it would be nice to make this warm bowl of soup and this savoury loaf of bread to welcome her home. To tell her I love her. To let her know that making her happy really does make happy.
When she finally dropped all her things and let the weight of the weekend drop from her shoulders, we sat at the table and shared this. And we talked. And talked. I told her how grateful I am for having her in my life. And I thanked her for being imperfectly perfect.
For as long as I'm blessed to live this wonderful life, I'll always strive to be better, do better. A better husband, friend and support system. And when someone asks me how married life is, I'll tell them. It's not easy. But I wouldn't want it any other way. With any other person.
From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH, SAGE & APPLE SOUP
- 1 large butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
- 8 sage leaves
- 4 large apples, peeled, cored and quartered
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small white onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 tbsp. sour cream
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the squash and remove the seeds. Roughly chop and spread out on a baking sheet. Add the quartered apples, 4 sage leaves and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes, until squash is tender.
- Using a large pot over medium heat, add in the other two tablespoons of olive oil and add in the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or until soft and then add in the garlic and bay leaf. Cook for a further minute. Add in the squash, apple cider, apples, brown sugar and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree soup in a food processor until smooth. Return to pot and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the heavy cream and heat.
- Garnish with sour cream. Serves 4-6.
APPLE, AGED CHEDDAR & SAGE LOAF
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. sage, finely sliced
- 1 cup aged cheddar, grated
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, cheddar cheese and sage.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and olive oil.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine. Fold in the apples and pour into the buttered loaf pan.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.