“ The nuns taught us there were two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Like to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things. The nuns taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end. I will be true to you. Whatever comes.”

Mrs. O’Brien from The Tree of Life


Too often I find myself struggling to control things that are not meant to be contained – these millions of images that race through my mind, flashing back to moments of time that somehow define the person I am today.

How much easier Life would be if only things happened with a simple command.


Winter came late this year. The Northerly winds howled their eerie song last night, ripping off the leaves that remained on the branches. I pray that it doesn’t stay long.

There’s something about the cold that changes me– the way it can slowly seep into your bones – a pain that resonates in every hollow crevice in your body. Constant comfort found in deep mugs of piping hot tea, oversized blankets pulled up to your nose, and the perfect bowl of a soul-warming soup that helps you feel alive again.


Few things grow during the Winter, it’s nap time for Nature. But for the few things that are available, they grow strong and plentiful like Butternut Squash and Sweet Potatoes. Cook with the seasons, accept what they offer you and embrace the connection of food to soul.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe type: Entree
Author: Joy Zhang
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 2 hours
Serves: 4-6
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
  • 1 medium Butternut Squash, seeded, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 1 Sweet Potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Kosher salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Salt pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. In a large bowl mix butternut squash, sweet potatoes and garlic together. Evenly coat with olive oil and place on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until squash and potatoes are very soft. Take out and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Place chopped onion and curry powder and sauté until fragrant and onion is caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add coconut milk along with 3 cups of water, mix well. Add roasted butternut and garlic. Remove from heat. Take hand-held blender and carefully mix all ingredients in pot until smooth (you may also use a normal blender to do this).
  3. Return to heat and add fish sauce and taste with salt and pepper. If the soup is still too thick for your liking, you can thin it out with vegetable stock or water. Add ¼ cup amounts at a time until you reach desired consistency. Serve hot and garnish with croutons and drizzle with high-quality extra virgin olive oil if desired.

**** If the squash is too hard to cut, place into oven for 10 minutes to soften. This will facilitate the cutting process.
**** When caramelizing onions do not move the onions around too much, stir the pan every minute or so. If the onions are burning too fast, simply lower the heat.
**** To avoid kitchen injuries, never try blending soups when they are piping hot. Allow soup to cool a little before blending.
**** Leftover soup can be frozen and store for up to a month.


  1. Jean says: 12 Jan ’12 • 16:16:04

    I love the words of wisdom you started with, Joy. Great words to live by. And the soup? Beautiful and perfect for this cold winter day. Comfort indeed.


  2. Annie @ Annie’s Cooking Lab says: 12 Jan ’12 • 16:23:47

    I’ve been on a major soup kick lately- I made two different kinds last week and I’ve been looking for another to try! This one looks beautiful, I’m excited to taste it!


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