I feel like I’m living on borrowed time these days. This is my theme song every morning I wake up still pregnant. Our kid is due to make his grand entrance pretty much any day (eee!), and I feel sort of like a squirrel before winter, running around and packing things into my cheeks before winter shows up and it’s time for hibernation to begin.
The Big Man has been mocking me for going a little crazy with the nesting. I’ve rearranged the nursery three times in the last two weeks, have been cooking and storing freezer meals every day, and writing grand lists of things to buy and complete. I even arranged one of the kitchen drawers with baby bibs and feeding items, even though we’re month away from needing anything like that.
And yet I still feel we’ll never be ready! I think that’s what’s killing me most of all. That for all my prep and reading and list making and tiny washcloth folding, we’re still going to have this hurricane of a new baby blow into the apartment and have times where we look at each other like, “Ok, what now?” I’m torn between dying of excitement and being stricken down with abject terror (although, with every passing day, I’m closer to excitement than terror. But still). Seriously, where is this kid? I have clean sheets in the bassinet, drawers stocked of onesies and a freezer full of soups and lasagna. Let’s go already!
At least I have the freezer meals to fall back on when things start to feel too overwhelming and my anxiety starts to kick into high gear. Cooking food is my comfort zone, and at least one area where I can feel like, “Ok. I got this.”. It’s one recipe step in front of the other, one more masking tape label pressed onto the lid of a plastic container, one more clean dish drying next to the sink; I can go on autopilot and clear my head, if only for a little while. Food, I can do. And if I can get the freezer ready to go before Showtime, then I’m really ready. Right?
I’ve been making this soup more or less all winter long. The temperatures in New York have been up and down since October, and roasting butternut squash gives me that homey, “something’s warm in the oven” smell to the apartment that I crave on gray, cold afternoons. I carried home three huge squashes the other day (which were kind of heavy and made me feel like I was going to give birth right there on the sidewalk, so that was pretty stupid in hindsight) and packed at least two big tubs of this soup away in the freezer. When served with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a handful of roasted butternut squash seeds, it’s the perfect sipping soup to keep me going on my little pre-baby whirlwind. It even makes me feel the teensiest bit more ready.
- 2-3 large butternut squash
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- 1/2 cup water
- olive oil, for drizzling
- sea salt, for sprinkling
- smoked paprika, for sprinkling
- balsamic vinegar, to taste
- Heat the oven to 400*F. Slice each squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp from the inside. Set the seeds aside for later.
- Arrange the squash on a baking tray, skin side down, and drizzle each half with olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a sprinkle of smoked paprika (the paprika is optional but lends a great flavor). Place in the oven and roast until completely cooked through, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the squash.
- Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool until they can be handled.
- While the squash is cooling, rinse the pulp away from the seeds under running water. Pour the wet seeds into a clean dish towel or paper towel and lightly dry, then scatter the seeds evenly around on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and smoked paprika, then place in the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, until they are lightly browned and crispy. Remove from oven, turn off the heat, and set the seeds aside to cool.
- When the squash can be handled, use a spoon to scrape out the flesh from the skin. Place the cooked flesh in a large pot and add the buttermilk and stock. Turn the heat to low and begin to blend the soup together using an immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender, use your blender or a food processor, working in batches, until the soup is creamy and thick. Add the water, a little at a time, until you reach a desired consistency. You may not need all of the water, or you may wish to add a little more for a thinner soup.
- Heat the soup slowly and gently until it is cooked through, stirring often. Season to taste with more salt and freshly cracked pepper, if necessary When ready to serve, add a splash of balsamic vinegar to each serving and top with a small handful of the roasted squash seeds.