In the fall, I think about two things: butternut squash and running. We’ll get to the running in a minute, but first let’s talk butternut.
Now, don’t get it twisted: my first autumnal love is and will always be pumpkin. But in the romantic comedy of fall produce, pumpkin is the “it” girl whom our main character loves from the jump– it’s beautiful, tasteful, goes with everything and has a comfortable, earthy personality. As the movie moves on, though, the protagonist realizes that there’s something a little too easy about pumpkin and it dawns on him (or her!): s/he has loved butternut squash, pumpkin’s less-attractive, harder to handle, less intuitive friend, the whole time. For now, we’ll leave pumpkin alone, a fall fruit we love enough to know that someone else will love it better.
And now on to the running. As many of you know, I have been training for a race the past few falls. Some days I say this is for fitness, but most days I will give it to you straight: I only train so I can eat more. Yeah–it feels great to finish a 10-mile run on a Saturday before most people are awake. But it feels even BETTER to know that you are looking at a 1,000-calorie deficit and that you get to eat like it’s your damn job for the rest of the day.
So, today I bring you two things: my favorite long-run play list and a coconut butternut soup worth running for.
Chef Kefi’s Long-Run Playlist
The songs on this list are designed to maximize the kefi-potential of each run–I start out with a little slower-paced, feel-good music to find my stride and move on to more uptempo, I-will-run-you-over-if-you-get-in-my-way music before ending with “the go ‘head, girl” music.
1. “Kind and Generous” by Natalie Merchant
2. “Love Me Right” by Goapele
3. “Til There Was You” by The Beatles
4. “Shosholoza 2010” by Ternielle Nelson
5. “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine
6. “Rejoice” by Yolanda Adams
7. “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People
8. “The Watcher 2” by Jay-Z
9. “Two Words” by Kanye and Mos Def
10. “Give it to Me” by Nelly Furtado, JT, and Timbaland
11. “Notorious” by Biggie
12. “Jai Ho” by J.R Rahman
13. “Bullet Proof” by La Roux
14. “Don’t Stop” by The Brazilian Girls
15. “Keep the Car Running” by Arcade Fire
16. “Not Forgotten” by Israel & New Breed
17. “Juicey” by Biggie
18. “Someone like You” (remix) by DJ Kamikaze
19. “I’m Every Woman” by Whitney
20. “Golden” by Jill Scott
21. “Be Okay” by Ingrid Michaelson
Cool down: “Walk with You” by Della Reese
Coconut Butternut Soup
I got this recipe from the NYT Vegetarian Thanksgiving (an annual event worth the wait), but did some tweaking to make it easier.
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or other vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 medium apple, any variety, peeled and diced
- 2 cups prepared vegetable broth, or 2 cups water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- 3 teaspoons, separated into 1 tsp servings, good-quality curry powder (I made my own by using equal parts cumin, cardamom, ground chili, and garam masala)
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh or jarred ginger, or more, to taste
- 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
1. To bake the squash, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the butternut with a Y peeler. Cut in half lengthwise and then widthwise. Then chop from there– you want small pieces, but they do not need to be diced perfectly or teeny tiny. Toss with olive oil and 1 tsp curry or spice mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until you can easily stick a knife through to the center. They should be soft but not yet mushy.
2. Heat about half the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the apple and let it saute with onions for about 3 minues. Then add squash, broth and 2.5 tsp of spices. Bring to a steady simmer, then cover and simmer gently until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Transfer the solids to a food processor using a slotted spoon or spatula, in batches if need be, and process until smoothly pureed, then transfer back to the soup pot.
This seems like an annoying step but I did it in 3 batches in my little food process (Cuisinart, if you would like send me a bigger, fancier one, I’d love to be sponsored!)
5. Stir in the coconut milk and remaining 1/2 tsp of spices and return the soup to a gentle simmer. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until well heated through. If time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or two, then heat through as needed before serving.