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Posts Tagged ‘equinox’

Phew! In the past week, I have packed up my life and traveled across five states to move to a new city, begin a new job, and start a new year (yesterday was my birthday!). I’ve been busy. I meant to post this awesome soup recipe before the move, but as it often does, time slipped away into a frenzy of packing and good-byes. I hope this posting catches you in time to use the last of your own garden and farmers market harvests.

A little while ago, I posted a photo of my  Autumnal Equinox harvest, with promises of recipes to follow. One of my favorite recipes to come out of the harvest was a huge pot of soup. Inspired by the veggies of the harvest, I decided to try and make a soup as close to entirely garden-grown as possible. I threw in tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, fresh herbs, and dried herbs (from last year’s harvest) all from the garden. Garlic, onion, and a few other basics had to be bought, and I couldn’t resist adding fresh farmers market corn. I topped this soup with a bit of semi-sweet white wine and Parmesan and enjoyed the flavors of late summer.

And I should mention that this recipe makes a huge pot of soup. My original plan was to have leftovers to freeze, so I could enjoy the flavors of summer when I need a pick-me-up this winter. Alas, the soup was just too good, and we all ate up the entire pot within days.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini, sliced or chopped
  • 1 large yellow squash, sliced or chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced or chopped
  • about 6 small-medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 c green beans, chopped
  • 1 cob corn
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 2 cups lightly packed fresh mixed herbs (rosemary, basil, parsley, thyme, marjoram), chopped
  • 1 tsp each dried oragano and basil
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 quarts veggie broth or water
  • heavy splash semi-sweet white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

As with most things I cook, ingredients are fluid–a bit extra on the herbs, a bit less of the squash–these changes really won’t effect the overall results too much. Still, I have to say the  ingredients and ratios I used for this particular soup were amazing, so I’ll throw in a few pictures to help you more accurately estimate the amounts.

Directions:

garlic cloves © 2012, Juniper Stokes

First, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil, adding the dried herbs and a bit of salt. I like to keep the soup pretty low fat, so I add water rather than more oil to prevent sticking. Once the veggies are added, they release enough water that you shouldn’t have any more sticking problems.

After sautéing the garlic, onions, and herbs for a few minutes, add the carrots and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

I used 2 fat carrots from the garden instead of one big one © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Then add the squash, zucchini, corn, and beans, and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes or so.

use a knife to take fresh corn kernels off the cob © 2012, Juniper Stokes

squash and zucchini © 2012, Juniper Stokes

veggies in a pot! © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Once the vegetables are just beginning to become tender, add the tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes.

garden tomatoes © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Next, throw in the fresh herbs, followed by the broth or water.

rosemary, parsley, marjoram, thyme, and basil © 2012, Juniper Stokes

I like my vegetable soup to be very brothy, so add a bit less liquid  for a chunkier soup. With the garlic, onion, herbs, and surplus of veggies, you should be fine sticking to water. A broth will simply add a bit more immediate flavor if you don’t have time to let the flavors set. When I made this soup, I compromised and used 1 cup veggie bouillon broth, with the rest plain old purified water. It worked.

Simmer the veggies in the liquid long enough to let the flavors merge, about another 25-30 minutes. I think a bit of wine makes most things better, so I like to stir in about a 1/4 cup semi-sweet white wine right after turning off the heat at the end.

Top with parm (totally optional), salt, and pepper and serve immediately, or for even more flavor let the soup sit overnight. Yum.

late summer garden soup © 2012, Juniper Stokes

And in case you’re wondering, my new home is in Boulder, CO, and I just turned 32. Enjoy the soup!

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Today, in the northern hemisphere, we are experiencing the fall equinox. Twice a year, we have a balance of day and night, once in the fall (the autumnal equinox), and once in the spring (the vernal equinox). Here in the north, March offers our vernal equinox, while September brings the autumnal  equinox.

Among the ancient Celts, all changes of seasons were sacred times to be celebrated with ritual and festivity, and the autumnal equinox was no exception. Today, this holiday is called “Mabon” on the modern Pagan wheel of the seasons:

File:Wheel of the Year.svg

Similar to our modern Thanksgivings, the autumnal equinox is a time to celebrate the harvest and give thanks for the fruits of our labors. It is also a time for generosity and sharing our bounty with our neighbors and communities.

As our gardens go through seasons of seeding, fruitfulness, harvest, and rest, so do the cycles of our lives. The autumnal equinox presents a transition from the creative, manifesting, and active  energy of summer to the reflective, grateful, and rewarding time of fall. Now is the time to look at what we have created over the past year. What seeds did we plant, and how have they grown? What have our past actions brought us? Which projects have been successful, and which must we return to again in the next cycle? As the days of our year continue to shorten and nights begin to lengthen, we may begin to spend less time in active pursuits, and more time in contemplation and reflection.

The autumnal equinox is also a time for balance, as day and night are of equal length. Astrologically, it is significant that this equinox occurs as the sun enters the sign of Libra, or the scales, once again representing a time of balance and harmony.

Libra scales

I personally love tuning into the seasons in this way. I feel the more I connect to the Earth and its natural cycles, the more balance, and ultimately creativity, I bring to my own life.

Essential Oils for the Autumnal Equinox

Aromatherapy offers a wonderful way to enhance seasonal celebrations, as certain essential oils can assist us with different elements of the season. Here are a few of my suggestions for the autumnal equinox:

Black Pepper is a warming and spicy scent perfect for the fall. It comforts us and brings about a sense of security to help us through times of change.

Cardamom is seasonal and spicy, bringing about a warm enthusiasm to help us celebrate the new season.

Cedarwood, another warming oil, assists us with grounding and strengthens our spirits in times of crisis. This is a wonderful oil to help you deal with the more difficult aspects of seasonal changes.

Cypress is traditionally connected to Pluto, Greek god of the underworld and symbol of psychological transformation. Cypress can assist with unblocking fears that may inhibit change.

Myrrh  brings balance by uniting the physical and spiritual realms. Its effect on the nervous system aids in a sense of calm and tranquility, making it a wonderful oil to use for meditation and reflection.

Patchouli is a wonderfully sensual oil that helps bring us into our bodies more fully. This oil helps us truly enjoy the earthy, celebratory aspects of the autumnal equinox.

Balance and Generosity Blend: This day is all about balance, and a wonderful way to bring balance into your life is to center yourself in your heart. The heart is our center, bringing our roots and our dreams into harmony. The heart is also the center of selfless love and generosity, and this day reminds us to share our gifts and spirit. Three oils that assist in balancing and opening the heart are lavender, rose otto, and bergamot. The following is my blend for opening the heart:

  • 4 drops lavender
  • 2 drop rose otto
  • 2 drops bergamot

With this blend and all single essential oils, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Using blend a diffuser is a wonderful and safe way to enjoy the benefits of essential oils. If you’d like to use any oils directly on your skin, make sure to dilute them first in some sort of carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba.

Enjoy the celebration today with balance, gratitude, and generosity of spirit!

fall colors in Japan

 

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