pumpkinseed vegetable soup
I spent the morning cleaning. Let me tell you why that’s interesting. It’s not! It’s not interesting at all, to anyone! Cleaning is dull and tedious and repetitive, and it’s only satisfying if you’re good at it, which I’m not. You wouldn’t walk into my house and say, “This place looks great, Claire must have cleaned for hours
this morning!” You’d more likely say, “Jesus, what a dump! How can they live in such squalor?” Cleaning is the most sisyphean of tasks, you clean, it gets messy again, you clean, it gets even messier. Especially if you have children or dogs. Honestly, I think cleaning a house with two little boys in it is the definition of insanity. They stand in the yard and throw dirt at things because it’s fun
. They throw paint (and other substances) at the walls and the floor. Of course they do! Who wouldn’t? I’m a good mom for little boys, because I like dirt, as long as it’s good clean dirt. If they eat some soil in their lives, it can only be good for them, to take a bit of the earth into their bodies, right? But I don’t necessarily like dirt on my windowsills, and that’s what we had, in large quantities. I could have planted some seeds in there and they would have grown. Today I cleaned the windows and cleared out some cobwebs (literally–We share our home with many spiders). And that does feel good in springtime. To have a clear and unobstructed view of the world coming to life outside your windows. To remove some of the clutter that confuses your picture of the world. I don’t enjoy cleaning, but there are things I like about it. I like the fact that we all have to do it (or hire somebody to do it). There’s something comforting in that–cleaning connects us and it’s humbling and grounding for everyone. I like the clarity that it can bring, and the sense of renewal. My mind feels fuzzy and confused, sometimes, as though it is actually wrapped in spider webs, and cleaning my physical space can feel like opening a window in my brain, and blowing away some of that dust. Because cleaning is very good for freeing the mind. I have some of my best thoughts while sweeping the floor or scrubbing the tub, and if I get stuck on something I’m trying to write, cleaning is more than a way of procrastinating, it’s a way to keep thinking about something without consciously thinking about it. You shift the focus and alter the angle of the shot, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Sometimes when you clean you find a toy that you forgot you had, and you can stop and play with it for a while. And I like to think about spirits everywhere – angry pee spirits, mischievous dust spirits, the ghosts of little boy hand smudges, or phantom dog nose prints on glass–they all hold a little of the history or their happening. Even the clever spiders and their fantastical mysterious webs seem other-worldly at times. I feel that I make a deal with them when I clean. I’ll disturb them only so much, and then let them be. I’ll stir them up and make them dance around in a flurry, but I’ll understand that they’ll settle again, that they’re part of this house and have probably lived here longer than I have. So I spent the morning cleaning windows and clearing clutter, and my mind and my eyes are a little clearer, a little more ready for spring, and already the dust is softly settling around me once again.
This soup felt a little like spring cleaning the vegetable drawer. I had a lot of green vegetables and some were past the first blush of youth, because I wasn’t around much last week, so I decided to make them into a soup. I used broccoli, spinach, kale and cauliflower (not green, I know! But it doesn’t look ugly with green vegetables, and it makes such a smoooooth purée). YOu could use any vegetables you have on hand that you like together. First I toasted some pumpkinseeds, because I love their flavor, and they make the soup nice and creamy. And I finished it by melting in some cheddar, which added flavor and substantiality. I seasoned it with cumin, sage, oregano and cilantro, because I wanted it to go well with our leftover kale and black bean cornmeal cakes, but you could use any herbs and spices you like!
Here’s Van Morrison. He’s happy Cleaning Windows.
1 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 t oregano
1 t sage
1 t red pepper flakes
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
2 cups baby spinach
1 cup kale
1 t cumin
2 t brown or raw sugar
1 t salt
1 t tamari
1 T butter
juice of one lime
handful cilantro, plus some for garnish
1 cup (+/-) grated sharp cheddar
lots of black pepper
Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the bay leaves, pepper flakes, shallot and garlic, and stir and fry until the garlic starts to brown. Add the herbs and the pumpkinseeds. Fry, stirring frequently, until the pumpkinseeds start to become brown and fragrant. Add all of the veg, stir and cook until the pot starts to dry out. THen add the cumin, sugar, salt and enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about half an hour, or until the vegetables are nice and soft. Stir in the tamari, butter and lime juice, and a small handful of cilantro. Puree in batches until the soup is smooth and pale sage green. Stir in the cheese, warm the soup through, taste for salt and add plenty of pepper.
I love your thoughts about cleaning. I look at my windows and think, maybe i should have a window washing wine party.
We have nice spiders. The wolf spider is a cutie and always listens. I hear they eat flea eggs. Or maybe it is the ants.
You’ve inspired me to get out the ladder and to vacuum the bodies of dead stink bugs that have collected in the pendant chandelier.
You have a lot more windows than I do!!
I should come clean (geddit?) and admit that I only washed the insides of three windows. I did clear the sills of clutter, though.