Fall is always a welcome reset from the rush of summer and the beginning of the school year. The concept of autumn resolutions has always resonated more than the traditional new year’s ones: brew some darjeeling, scribble in your journal, call your mother, take stock. Meditate, ruminate, discern what’s on the horizon and how you are going to keep all the plates spinning for another year. Or perhaps figure out which ones you should let go.
This September marked the beginning of our third of four years in Savannah. As we sat on the porch yesterday, roasting coffee for the week and waxing philosophical about the world and our place in it (“spitballing,” my husband calls it), the question came up: Do you think we’ll ever come back here when it’s all over? Even just to see that everything is still here, to confirm what once was? Most likely, our next stop is an automotive design hub: Detroit, Los Angeles, or Germany. In other words, wherever J can get a job. (What will I do? Let’s agree to avoid that question.) There wouldn’t be much reason for us to ever pass Savannah on I-95, but if we did, would we take that exit and at least drive through the hostess city of the South once more?
Maybe, maybe not. There are so many good people here, so many people we adore and will miss, but our slice of small-town community has always felt temporary. Perhaps it’s best to leave things be once it’s all finished. We chafe at so much about this city–the grime, the racial tension, the feeling of being stuck in time. Ultimately, though, I can live with a lot of things for two more years. The fact that our time here is limited makes those everyday frustrations bearable.
More than just passing the time, though, we’ve got a lot of living to do in the next two years, which means a lot of thoughtful planning and intentionality in our days. I’m constantly amazed at the juxtaposition of feeling so out of place yet so intentionally rooted here. Aside from J getting his degree, I confess to having no idea what we’re supposed to accomplish here, yet there’s the feeling that whatever it is, it’s desperately important work.
So for now, I’m making soup. This is a contemplative soup, good for sipping absentmindedly in your favorite armchair while gazing through a rain-misted window or being thoroughly transported by a good read. Sweet potatoes and lentils, Thai flavors of coconut, lime, basil, and ginger. I hadn’t intended to make a Thai sweet potato soup, but the contents of the fridge aligned and I’m glad I did. It seems fitting, since fall is all about Thai and Vietnamese food back home. There’s something very appetizing about belly-filling, herb-jammed bowls when it’s gray and rainy.
Best of all, soup doesn’t demand much aside from a bit of preliminary chopping, which means more time for orange cat snuggles and catching up on emails–perfect. You have the opportunity to do the same, should the mood strike you, so here’s the recipe. Enjoy.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, seeds and membranes scraped out with a spoon, minced
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro, leaves and stems separated and both chopped finely
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
- 1/2 cup red lentils (optional)
- 3 cups vegetable broth (2 1/2 if not using lentils)
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
- 2 Tablespoons chopped (preferably Thai) basil
- Heat oil in the bottom of a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic, jalapeno, ginger, and cilantro stems, and cook another 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add sweet potatoes, lentils, broth, and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a knife.
- Stir in coconut milk, lime juice, basil, and cilantro leaves. Pour into a blender and puree until smooth, or use an immersion blender. Serve with lime wedges and Sriracha.