This sweet potato cauliflower soup has been with me through a lot in the last few days.
It filled my anxious, hopeful stomach on Monday night (covered with an H-shaped hemp seed logo) as Charlie and I made a plan to go to the polls together. It soothed the heartbreak and confusion I felt yesterday, when my nerves couldn’t handle anything more complex or indulgent in celebration of my birthday. And it’s what I ate for lunch this afternoon as I tried to puzzle through what role my voice plays in this national conversation, during my 31st year of life and beyond.
It was the first birthday that I dreaded waking up. But as the day went on, I realized how fortunate I was. It was a dark day for everyone, even for those who were on the other side of the outcome. There is no victory in the feeling of deep division. And I felt grateful that I was on the receiving end of so many notes of love and kindness, when I could have spent the day feeling even more defeated, hopeless and alone.
Despite the urgings of my friends and family, I didn’t feel there was much to celebrate. I put aside my usual birthday soul reflection. Instead of turning inward, I gave myself permission just to grieve. I took solace in this Pema Chodron quote that was sent to me by a friend, one of the strongest women I know:
“Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know.”
I also found myself turning to social media–to the healers, activists and visionaries I love–to pull me from my disillusionment and put words to the pain of this fall. To remind me that hope is not lost. That when the pieces are gathered they will come together into something more beautiful than we ever could have imagined.
There was this explanation from my astrologer, who like the pollsters, had been humbled by his reading of the stars. His new interpretation is ultimately hopeful. Renewal will come gradually, and painfully. But it will come.
I found so many beautiful quotes and words of wisdom through my feeds. Social media can be a powerful source of community in these moments. But if there was any revelation that hit me harder than any other yesterday it’s that they too can make our worlds that much smaller.
The shock that I, and so many of my loved ones, felt yesterday morning was a result of living in a heavily insulated bubble. The interior may look different. But the padding and infrastructure is the same as any other. It’s those same walls that make us feel angry towards the people on the other side of them. That make us think, even if just for a moment, that the system must be rigged.
My two instagram posts about the election (this and this) got more likes than anything I’ve ever shared. And they also earned me the most unfollows, many of them vocal. I couldn’t care less about the numbers. But what does worry me is how our social media accounts allow us to further curate the opinions we hear and silence the ones that don’t sound like our own with a click of a button.
I still choose love. And I want to keep my feeds free of toxic emotions, falsehoods masquerading as fact, and anything in the vicinity of bigotry. But I also recognize that we could all benefit from pushing ourselves to diversify our worlds—real or virtual—in whatever way possible.
Because it is only once we step into each other’s bubble that we can pop them both for good.
The food space is it’s own bubble. I’m usually insulated from any type of world view or opinion that goes beyond the heated debate of cake versus pie. That all changed this week. And it’s a change that I hope has returned blogging to the personal, soul-driven place it was eight years ago when I first started sharing little pieces of my life on virtual paper.
When big, scary things happen in the world I sometimes question what I do for a living. While I believe that I am, in some small sense, saving lives one kale salad at a time, glamor shots of pumpkin tarts don’t feel like enough. Yesterday was one of those days.
I was lucky to receive a note from a friend’s father about the importance of food and nourishment in the most troubling of times. Sharing food is sharing love. And that is a gift I will continue to give to all of you. But I also think it’s important to keep sharing what’s going on around the table. If the conversation is different from yours, please share it right back in the comments section. I truly want to hear and to understand.
I hope we can all move forward with our eyes, ears and arms OPEN. Choosing love is choosing to grant The Other a kind, accepting audience.
As for this vegan soup, it’s sweet, spicy, and comforting. It’s everything I want this time of year, no matter how cold and gloomy the day. And it’s perfect for both the darkness and the dawn.
Shake it out, sweat it out. Eat and feel all the feelings, my healthy hedonists.
You have my love,
Vegan Sweet Potato-Cauliflower Soup with Red Curry
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
- One 15-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 avocado, sliced for garnish (optional)
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425°. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with 1 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Arrange in an even layer. On a second sheet pan, toss the sweet potato with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and caramelized, switching the pans from top to bottom halfway through.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Saute the onion over medium-high heat until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and curry paste. Cook until very fragrant, 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut oil and 2 cups water and scrape up any brown bits that may have formed on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil.
Stir in the roasted cauliflower, sweet potato, maple syrup (if using) and lime juice. Bring back to a simmer then remove from the heat. Puree using an immersion or standing blender until very smooth, adding more liquid as necessary to create the consistency you want. Taste for seasoning and add more curry or salt as necessary.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the avocado and hemp seeds, if using.