The Story of Celebration Soup

Don’t you love it when good news comes in the form of an email? I sure do. Yesterday one such happy message popped up in the ole inbox and it brought about a the biggest bout of happy dances, hand claps and elation whoops this side of Valencia St.

(Is this not the most unappetizing bowl of soup you’ve ever seen? Such is my luck.)

My original pursuit, fulfilling an offer to make a sick friend soup, turned into a spastic exhibition of joy. Instead of ignoring the good news and bucking down, why not call the rest of my soup making what it is? Celebration Soup! (Stick with me here, folks.)

I’m not going to post the whole recipe for Michael Chiarello’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. I didn’t really change anything. After giving the recipe an initial once-over, I finally sat down to read it in it’s an entirety. Wait a sec, this is a friggen rabbit hole recipe!

You know the type. Starts off easy enough until you reach the ingredients list and it says “1 1/2 cups Roasted Winter Squash recipe.” So you skip down and read the recipe for this Roasted Winter Squash. A few seconds later, you’re greeted AGAIN with “2 teaspoons Toasted Spice Rub, recipe follows.” Ughface. This better be good. (It was.)

Let me break it down: I want to make this soup. But first I have to make the roasted squash mixture. But even before that I have to concoct the spices. Dagnabit recipe writer, I just want soup! What’s with the THREE recipes needed to make your deceptively short Roasted Butternut Squash Soup?!? Luckily I had everything on hand, and despite my initial frustrations, plowed ahead.

So that’s the start of my Celebration Soup. Not an auspicious takeoff, but the beginning was that of sheer amazement someone pushed this giganto batch of recipes through.

Working from the bottom of the webpage up, it was spice time! And these are the good guy spices: fennel, coriander, peppercorns, red chile flakes, salt, cinnamon, chili powder. The house was going to smell like a pizzeria and only an insane person wouldn’t be ok with that.  Look at that beautiful start of the toasted spice rub. It’s enough to make a girl want to cry (from not turning on the oven fan and inhaling heated red pepper).

With the spices out of the way, time for squash prep. Mid-peel, I heard a ding from my laptop upstairs in the craft loft indicating a new email. Generally I would ignore it but my curiosity got the better of me. Grabbing my iPhone off the kitchen table, I glanced at the email. What I saw next included “pleased” and “offer.” I threw down my iPhone and ran upstairs to read the whole thing.

WAHOO!!! I DID IT! I GOT THE JOB I VERY MUCH WANTED! Sure, it’s for a short 4 months but I’ll take that. Who wouldn’t want to work with the incredible people at Chronicle Books? It was (and is) my #1 heart’s desire. There’s no pretending, I wasn’t just happy with the news of a job offer but I was also incredibly thankful that it wasn’t rejection. With 5 months and 1 full read of “What Color is Your Parachute?”  under my belt, it was time for a change. I’d come within an angel hair’s of getting several other really sweet gigs but  I’m convinced that this is what the universe had waiting for me. Happy, happy, happy! After a few appropriate text messages and phone calls to family and friends, I had to get back at the task at hand. Soup? Nope, it’s a celebration! Struggling to focus on what I was doing, I decided the hell with it, this soup was gonna be a party for 1. So what’s next?

The spice rub is all done. It must be time to roast the butternut squash. Remember these guys from the CSA box? Turns out they are a combined weight of 3 pounds which is exactly what the recipe specified. One hour of caramelized cubed squash, butter, spice mix, some fresh sage, balsamic vinegar, sugar and brown sugar (sub for unsulfured molasses) later, the Roasted Winter Squash recipe is rarin’ to go.

FINALLY, TO THE ACTUAL SOUP. It really was a snap to put together… once I’d completed the other more strenuous parts of my mission. I ground up the squash bits with my wand mixer, chopped up some CSA carrots, and an onion. They sautéed with a cinnamon stick until soft and then doused in chicken stock, simmered for awhile longer. Cinnamon stick removed, squash added, salt/pepper to taste. Soup poured in a thermos for easy transport and I was OFF for delivery.

I rushed to get this soup out the door. After all, it was time for celebration cocktails.

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