My earliest memories of when food and love met featured my mother. I remember her sitting on our sofa with paper and pen, scratching down the measurements and ingredients of whatever the woman on tv was making. Striving to offer something new to us.
I didn’t much learn to cook as a child—eating wasn’t a priority for me. Despite the fact that there was always delicious homemade food available, I was a picky eater who preferred cereal to meals, and who took the cheese off her pizza. Much has changed!
My mother, grandmothers, and aunts all cooked—it’s no surprise that I would take to the kitchen, too. They showed me that food is love. Food brought people together. And food was how you took care of your family. And when I went away to college, with little to no cooking skills, I somehow became the momma bird to those around me.
My first ‘dinner party’ was for my college apartment mates (and their boyfriends) during a snowstorm. I served one of my favorite menus: Boars Head hotdogs (fried in butter on a potato bun), salt & vinegar potato chips, and glass-bottled, ice-cold Cokes. Magnifique!
The following year I called my mother and asked how to make breaded chicken. I wowed my boyfriend (now husband) and roommates with homemade Italian chicken cutlets, sauteed zucchini with parmesan, and some boxed angel hair Pasta Roni. Gourmet, I know. We all start somewhere!
Once I graduated and had access to a kitchen of my own, I began to take my mother’s recipes (and others), learn the techniques, and then create something similar, but with my own twist. Cooking for my loved ones became part of who I was.
My mother and I both love to cook. We make similar meals—Italian food, soups, sauces—but we execute them differently.
Her sauces take hours, mine take minutes.
She stews, I saute.
She drinks tea, I drink wine.
But the passion behind it is all the same.
So why soup? Why this soup?
Because this recipe is one of the very first that I created on my own and wrote down to pass on. I remember typing and printing it out years ago. Giving the soup a flashy name and writing the directions out as if I was the woman on tv, offering my recipe for someone else to scratch down the ingredients with her pen and paper.
It was before the internet was what it is.
Before food bloggers.
Before food networks.
And it was before I was comfortable calling myself a good cook.
I’ve made this recipe many times since I first wrote it down, and it has evolved, naturally. But this week I found the original printed recipe—folded a few times and shoved at the very bottom of my kitchen tin. It was as if printing it out was as close as I could come to admitting that I loved to cook, and wanted to be good at it. I wasn’t comfortable with that, so I folded that ambition into tiny rectangles and tucked it into the bottom of an old tin.
Sharing this recipe signals my new comfort level with this aspect of my life. So here I offer you with pride (and an elaborate title):
The Most Delicious, Most Simple Garlic Rosemary Squash Soup
10 or more roasted garlic cloves
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Fresh cracked pepper
Extra virgin olive 0il
2 whole butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1-2 Boxes organic vegetable broth
(I’ve moved on to adding carrots and roasted cauliflower for variety—or whatever extra vegetables are on hand that need to be used.)
Heat a glub of oil over medium and add rosemary sprigs.
Toss in garlic and sprinkle with sea salt.
Once wilted, add raw squash, carrots, and one box of broth. Season with salt and pepper. Once to a boil, lower the medium heat until vegetables are tender. Turn off the burner and let sit. Remove full sprigs of rosemary. Transfer to blender. Puree. Add more broth if needed for desired consistency.
There you have the easiest, most incredibly aromatic, and healthy, cup of love to serve. (I can see now where the embarrassment comes in!)
Season to taste. Serve with bread, croutons, and parmesan.
What are your first memories around food and family? I look forward to hearing about them!