Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Favorite Soup!

Soup is the song of the hearth
... and the home.

Louis P. De Gouy 1949

I have a habit of saving recipes from magazines and never using them. I also have several beautiful cookbooks that I look at, become very hungry, then pick up the phone and promptly order take out.

In the late 1990s I had a subscription for Food and Wine magazine, which had all sorts of lovely, appetite enhancing photographs but when the January 1999 issue showed up, I knew it was time to time to use the inside of my oven for something other than storage. (This recipe calls for baking pumpkin!)

The photo was gorgeous ... a beautiful rustic grey ceramic bowl that looked almost like old metal ... broth with bits of cilantro, avocado and a thin slice of lime, floating over pumpkin, black beans and corn ... mmmmmmmm!

It is now my hearty, go-to soup for fall and winter. You can substitute pumpkin for butternut or another sweet squash. It is also hearty enough to skip the chicken (I usually do) or even make it vegan/vegetarian soup with vegetable stock.

So, here goes ...

Chipotle-Lime Broth with
Chicken and Pumpkin

for Food and Wine
Mexico's lighter side January 1999

My version ...

1 small sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds) halved and seed and sliced 1 1/4 inches thick

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 quarts chicken stock

2 canned chipotle chiles in adobe- rinsed, seeded and thinly sliced (careful not to touch your eyes or inhale deeply. They used to carry them at my supermarket and stopped so I had to go to the little latin market)

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn

1 1/2 cups cooked black or pink beans

2 cups shredded roasted chicken breast meat

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus 1 lime, cut into wedges

1/2 cup chopped cilantro


1 ripe Hass avocado, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven 400 degrees. Brush the pumpkin with 1/2 teaspoon of the oil and bake on a nontick baking sheet for about 20 minute or until just tender. Let cool, then remove and discard the skin. Cut pumpkin to 1/2 inch dice. (I do it a little bigger since I rarely do meat)

Heat the remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the onion, cover and cook over moderate low heat until soft, about 5 mins. Uncover, increase heat and cook stirring until golden. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant about 3 minutes.

In large saucepan bring the chicken stock to simmer. Add chipotles and cook 2 mins. Add pumpkin, onlin, corn and beans and simmer over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken and cook just until warmed through. Add the lime juice and cilantro and season with salt. Serve soup in large bowls and pass the avocado and lime wedges alongside. (I float massive amounts of avocado because I love them.)

Chipotle chiles give the broth a smoky, spicy flavor.. A hefty squeeze of fresh lime juice just before serving is essential.

serves 6

Thanks Sally for such a wonderful recipe!

As you can see, I go a little nuts with the avocado and cilantro. As with every recipe, I double the garlic, try to use organic ingredients as much as possible and I use red onion because it has more anti-cancer properties than white onions. (I've heard that 3 times now, so I am going with it!) My market stopped carrying chipotles in adobo so I find it at a little latin market.

You all should check out Sally's beautiful cooking website and the articles in her archives, as well as her fabulous blog!

Beautiful soup!
Who cares for fish,
or game
or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two pennyworth of beautiful soup?

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I can't believe it's almost December (my favorite month!) and that my Italian final is Monday night! I put up my mini tinsel Christmas tree and have made my holiday iTunes playlist, so I am ready to roll! Well, except that I haven't gotten started on Christmas shopping. Maybe I will just make everyone soup!

Blessings and light and good soup!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

Without exception, I begin every day of my life
with an expression of gratitude.
As I look in the mirror to begin my daily ritual of shaving, I say,
"Thank you, God, for this life, for my body, for my family and loved ones,
for this day and for the opportunity to be of service.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

~Wayne Dyer

Gourd and Seed Pod
Texture Watercolor Study Oct 2011

Life has been a little crazy but I am feeling especially grateful today. Yesterday, my doctor called to tell me about results for an MRI I had last Friday and I AM FINE!

"Whatever was there before, is gone," she said.

Nothing like staring at the inside of big noisy plastic magnetic tube to put things immediately back in perspective! (Plus you really do feel like they are going to blast you into outer space!)

If you have ever been very ill, or had a big health scare, you know exactly what I am talking about. You become grateful for the "little things," that all of the sudden become big things. You get awfully grateful that you are able to sit down to dinner with your family, to call your best friend, or to take a hot shower on your own and get yourself to the bathroom at 2 am!

So today on the eve on Thanksgiving, here in the U.S., I would like to share this gratitude prayer for the body from Marianne Williamson's book Illuminata. I said this prayer every day (that I was lucid) when I was very sick in the hospital a couple of years ago and on many days since. I really believe that finding gratitude, especially in the most difficult times, heals us at the very deepest levels of our being.

Dear God,
As I rise up, I thank You for the opportunity
to be on this earth.

I thank You for my mind and body.
I thank you for my life.

Please bless my body and use it for Your purposes.
May I rise up strong today,
and may my body and soul radiate your love.

May all impurities be cast out
of my mind, my heart, my body.

May every cell of my being be filled with Your light.

May my body and mind both be illumined Your sake,
and the sake of all the world.


Prayer from Illuminata
by Marianne Williamson's

Thank you for visiting, for your friendship and for your inspiration.

Many, many blessings, love and light to you all!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

View from Assisi ~ in Pastel

When the uniqueness of a place
sings to us like a melody,
then we will know,
at last,
what it means to be home.

~Paul Gruchow

I can't seem to resist doing pastel paintings of places I love, especially Italy.

When I am working on the pastel, I feel connected to the place, as if there is a dialog between myself and the far away place I miss so much.

I am expressing my love for it, and somehow it answers back ...

I will always be here ...

View from Assisi October 2011
Pastel with watercolor underpainting

If you haven't seen it already, here is my slideshow (with beautiful music, I can't take credit for!) from my first trip to Assisi.

All journeys have secret destinations
of which the traveler is unaware.

~Martin Buber

Hope you are all being blessed with an amazing weekend!

Hugs and light!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gratitude and Breathing Deeply and Gently ...

Each moment you are alive is a gem.
You only need to breathe gently for
the miracles to be displayed.

Thich Nhat Hahn

Nasturtiums October 2011
Sanguine chalk on paper
Flower study for "home-work"

When we know how to listen deeply
and how to breathe deeply in mindfulness,
everything becomes
clear and deep.

Thich Naht Hanh

A HUGE Thank You to all the Veterans.
We are forever grateful!

And while on the subject of gratitude ... my sister Penny sent this to me.
It's so beautiful! If you have already seen it, its worth watching again!

Hope you all have a beautiful, amazing weekend!

Blessings and light!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Paths, Flowers and the Present Moment

Photos from my 2010 trip to Positano

"Stay in the present moment.
Listen to your inner guidance.
Trust the wisdom of your heart.

Positano, Italy 2010

Feel the life force, guiding you, moving you forward.

Go where it leads.

Embrace your destiny.

Know you help create it
by what you choose each step of the way.

Let your choices come from your heart.

Trust and value each moment of your life.
Let it be important.

It is a turning point.
It is a spiritual experience.

Now is the time to practice what you know.
Let go.
Stay peaceful as you can.
Stay right here
in the present moment.

Sharpen your tools- your intuition, your inner voice,
your consciousness, and your awareness.

Do the little things, the small actions that appear right,
the things that are right before you.

Feel your feelings.
Move through the fear.
Wrap up in self-love.

Then let the journey unfold.
Trust that you are being guided and led."

~Melody Beattie
from Journey to the Heart

I love this song! It will give you a boost!
Hope you enjoy it!!

If you haven't heard, our brothers and sisters in the Cinque Terre and Genova need our prayers and our help. If you can, please give to the Italian Red Cross. Under "Causale della donazione" hit the arrow and click on "Emergenza Liguria e Toscana." Grazie!

Blessings and light to you, my friends!