The Window Nook

Adventures in living abroad

Pumpkin Soup Friday

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I’m making soup tonight- a roasted pumpkin blended with cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s become a staple lately, as the temperatures have fallen lower each week, and the sky has taken on a wintry cast which seems to foretell snow. As I wait for the late afternoon tram, the wind rushing up the street to tug at my tightly wound scarf, I often look forward to the moment when I will reach my flat, warm this soup to be paired with a smoked Gouda grilled cheese sandwich, and let the rich broth warm away the chill of the cold cobblestones outside.
Making soup, I’ve found, is more than just the gathering and combining of ingredients, or following a recipe (or not), or breathing in the rich smell of a hearty broth. It’s the memory of the Vietnamese shopkeeper who shared with me his recipe for baked pumpkin soup (in which the pumpkin itself is filled with a creamy broth and the entire concoction is baked in the oven). It’s the excitement at discovering a new grocery store at a tram stop near my flat, and bypassing the deep green savoy cabbage and the golden persimmons (tempting as they are) for the small pumpkins at the back. Eating and preparing new types of food, learning to navigate a city by metro and tram, learning the art of walking on cobblestones, the cultural differences in greeting each other and making friendships and inviting others to our home- all these I have struggled with and gradually understood more fully. And so this soup is a melding of what I have learned and experienced, a combination of a medley of flavors into a comforting broth. I have lived here, and learned, and loved, and have found it good.
I am thankful for the beauty of this city, the challenges of learning a difficult language, the friendships I have made. I am thankful for the wintry days and the wind that chills my gloved hands, for each day brings us closer to Christmas. I am thankful for the savory smell of roasting pumpkin that fills my flat, for the quiet of an afternoon alone to prepare this dish, for the indescribable smell of fresh bread as I slice it thin. Tonight we will host a group of friends, and the flat will be filled with the hum of voices, the rise and fall of laughter, and the shouts of children. They will come with food also to share, as we circle the table and feast together. We will give updates on the challenges and successes of the week, the lessons we are pondering, and latest examples of the quirkiness of life. I finish blending the soup and leave it to simmer, deepening the flavors as it simmers away. Soon I will serve up this soup and the sliced bread for our guests, and will join in the conversation as we talk and laugh and learn together. I am thankful for these friends, for with them my heart is full. 

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Author: annekemae

Enjoys writing, photography, reading mystery, historical fiction, and travelogues, chocolate in any form, and tulips.

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