One of my favorite things to cook is soups and stews. The process of layering the ingredients as I go has a mysterious quality that I find so appealing. For me there is a journey that takes place, similar to that found on my yoga mat. Rarely do I follow a given recipe, or a set practice. I may be inspired by one or two ingredients, postures, the rest evolves from there. Almost always I start a pot of soup by gently sauteing onions, emphasis on gently, in olive oil and a little sea salt and pepper. A centering, a place of new beginnings, intentions. After the onions have mellowed and their sweetness begins to release, I add the garlic, aromas increase, senses become heightened, pranayama. From here it's led by intuition, the ingredients on hand, the season. Soup, like yoga, has the ability to take on many qualities; nourishment, healing, cleansing, rejuvenation, among others.
Tonight the experience led to a pot of creamy, broccoli cheddar, heavenly goodness. Inspired by one huge bunch of fresh broccoli from a farm nearby, and a rather large supply of milk from another local farm. I would say this wound up being the kind of soup that offered comfort, the kind of familiar yet longed for comfort that brings forth joy and contentment. Funny, without setting out to do so, I managed to mirror exactly what my practice has been for me lately.
To round out the meal, Emily and I made a focaccia type bread with some pizza dough we had on hand. Topped it with olive oil, fresh garlic, sea salt and pepper, fresh rosemary, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Perfect.
As I think about this, I realize that every time I make soup or stew, I always (unless it's miso) let it sit before it is served, with the heat turned off, the lid on, for at least twenty minutes. Space to integrate, the gifts of practice revealed, shavasana.