Michelle Sessions DiFranco | Photography by Phillip Shippert
While chopping away at the onions, I gazed at our very colorless blank walls.
I was sharply reminded of the lack of progress my husband and I had made in interior decorating. My eyes then shifted toward our dining table, which was devoid of an attractive centerpiece. Instead, it was covered by the accumulated paperwork that seemed to stare menacingly back at me. I was suddenly feeling overwhelmed and annoyed ‘ and started chopping harder and faster.
I continued to internalize my feelings of self-pity. If it were up to me, I would just get a sitter for an entire day and go on a shopping spree at Pottery Barn to buy what I want ‘ starting with a still life for the dining room. Forget the discussion. Forget the money. Forget cooking dinner for a night. I wanted my house to look like the cover of an interior design magazine, and I wanted it now. How can I be expected to enjoy cooking when the very process only serves to remind me of how ‘behind’ I am in my house projects? At that instant, the cooking that started as a moment of inspiration felt a lot more like an unrewarding job on my long list of to-dos. I let out a frustrated sigh as I opened the toddler-handprint-covered stainless fridge door.
As I garnished each bowl of soup with some freshly chopped chives, my husband walked in. He didn’t even notice the scowl I must have been wearing. His reaction, and his words, hit like a lightning bolt. His eyes widened in surprise as the smell greeted him. He looked at the soup with the remnant ingredients clustered around it and exclaimed that it looked as pretty as a still life.
Well, when the Lord wants to tell you something, he sometimes whispers. In this case, he shouted. No interior design could have been as rewarding as my husband’s reaction. And he was right. At that moment, no still life could have looked as pretty, nor tasted as good, as that soup. Steaming and colorful, it sat in warm contrast to the cold November day. Most important, it helped me remember that when we are patient for the things we are seeking, we often receive other gifts we aren’t looking for.
Although I would like to have some art on my walls before I die, I think I can be more patient and thankful for what God has blessed me with in the meantime.
Butternut squash soup
‘ 2 tablespoons of butter or extra virgin olive oil
‘ 1⁄4 cup dry white wine
‘ 1 large onion, finely chopped
‘ 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
‘ 1 large butternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed (about 4 cups)
‘ 1 large baking potato cubed
‘ 1 1⁄2 quarts of chicken stock (canned or homemade)
‘ 3⁄4 teaspoon paprika
‘ salt and pepper to taste
‘ 1⁄2 cup whipping cream (optional)
‘ fresh chives for garnish
Saut’ the chopped onion in butter or olive oil for 4-5 minutes in a medium-size stockpot. Add the minced garlic and wine. Saut’ for one more minute, constantly stirring. Add the squash, potatoes, chicken stock and paprika. Bring to a boil. Cover pot and simmer for about 35-45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Pour soup into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. (A wand-style mixer will also work in the pot.) Return the soup to the pot and add salt and pepper to taste. For extra richness, stir in the whipping cream and reheat slowly. Top each bowl off with a drizzle of whipping cream and a few chives.