triple squash soup

Healing is a process that refuses to hurry. If you have witnessed it in a loved one, then you know the feeling of wishing you could wave a magic wand, whistle a tune, or snap your fingers and restore what is broken.

The early days of healing are hard. Time moves slow as molasses when you share the ache of his or her pain or illness, the whole room pierced with it. But in some ways those early days are also the easiest. You can actually provide for your patient’s needs: Food, water, and pain medication, outings, entertainment, and conversation. For an interlude the outside world grants the two of you grace and safe harbor to recuperate.

You migrate from hospital room to bedroom to an initial foray into the sunshine together, knowing all the while that the real world won’t stay at bay for long. Soon work will call and you will part ways. Likely on a Monday, as these things go.

leaf on pavement

I have wondered if young mothers feel this way on the first day of preschool, or later, of college. If there is a similar ache of parting and sadness that you can no longer provide for this person. Their problems will soon be too big and complex to solve with a snack.

It’s frustrating. I can’t speed up how quickly bone repairs itself. I can’t fix a hospital call schedule. But I can fix a bowl of soup.

Every October and November my mind wanders in the direction of a particular soup. I dream about its trio of rich squashes, cream, and a hint of ginger, especially during the evening commute when my toes are cold. Even its deep orange hue is soothingly therapeutic.

eating triple squash soup

leaves on pavement

I have a history with this soup. It carried me through my first cold months in Arlington, Virginia, after college. I would cross the street to Whole Foods Market and step in line for the prepared foods with a pang of guilty pleasure. On my lunch break I pondered the triple squash soup by the spoonful. In its velvety texture I could taste the pureed butternut squash, acorn squash, and—what was the third? Who knew. What mattered was that it tasted warm and sweet and full of autumn color. The antithesis of the cement buildings and black suits and practical footwear of the near suburbs of the nation’s capital.

It was, in short, an indulgence. Five dollars for a to-go container of steaming lunch. Not an extravagant price tag by most measures, but we were so broke at the time.

Different things are broke now, but the soup tastes just as sweet.

triple squash soup

Triple Squash Soup
Adapted from the Whole Foods Market classic with recipes courtesy of Susan Robertson from and Emily from

Makes 1 gallon of soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups yellow onion, diced
1 1/4 cups carrots, diced
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
3 cups butternut squash, diced
1 cup acorn squash, diced
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
8 cups water
1 tablespoon clover honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed pot. Add onions, carrots, and celery and sauté until glazed over and the onions begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add squash, pumpkin, water, and honey and bring to a boil. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

Mix cornstarch with the heavy cream to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the soup and mix well. Blend soup in a food processor in batches. Serve in bowls and garnish with parsley.