You never know where food might take you. Food holds memories and at times can serve as a time machine, transporting us back to that last memorable time when we were eating that exact food. This happened to me recently with my Curried Butternut Squash Soup. I was suddenly back in the hospital room with Emily.

I made this soup for my best friend, Emily, when she was in the hospital with acute Leukemia. It was my mission to bring her healthy, nutritious meals homemade with vegetables from my organic garden. I was determined this would help heal her illness and restore her to health. I had to cling to the hope that she would survive this evil disease. I believe in the power of nutrition to heal our bodies and the power of connection to heal our souls. I brought her homemade meals almost every week. I sat at her bedside as we discussed her prognosis, life, and relationships. We cried many times with some laughter thrown in here and there for good measure. She was scared. I was in denial. I didn’t want to think about the possibility of her not making it. She was my best friend, she had to survive. She had just had her first child, recently bought a home with her husband of less than a year, completed her Master’s degree in counseling and was currently practicing at a mental health center. She had overcome a challenging childhood and a difficult first marriage that ended in divorce. She told me many times during her divorce that there was no way she would survive another divorce, as it was killing her. Neither of us would have ever imagined at that time that something much more lethal would end up killing her a mere five years later.

We went through so much together and a lot of the time we spent together involved great food and deep conversations. We were never afraid to go deep with each other, to tell each other the things we didn’t necessarily want to hear but needed to hear. I feel so incredibly blessed to have had her as one of my very closest friends for almost 10 years. Unfortunately, my soup couldn’t save her. None of the food I brought her could save her. Modern medicine couldn’t save her. Her time here was so very short – a mere 36 years – yet she had tremendous impact on her friends, her family, her clients, her mentees. I can’t wrap my head around why she was taken away so soon, I never will understand. She had so much to offer this world still. It grieves me that she is gone. I miss her every day. This soup is in honor of Emily, in honor of true, authentic, deep friendships, in honor of the power of connection, in honor of the power of food to bring people together, in honor of the souls who come into our lives and change us forever. May you always have access to healthy, nutritious food, may you always be surrounded by kind and caring souls, and may your table always be filled with good food, great love, and much laughter.

Here’s the recipe.

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