Mary Beth Johnson is a photographer and blogger with a passion for finding beauty in unexpected places and celebrating the everyday. Originally from the east coast, she now lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three children (dubbed "schooners") and writes her lifestyle blog, Annapolis & Company, from a desk full of fingerprints and walls scattered with imperfect artwork.
You may have noticed I try to go back and forth between sharing the indulgent recipes we've tried, as well as the healthy ones. Ever since I became my own master chef in my own grownup kitchen, I've always made a huge effort to strike a balance with food. Loving to bake and share treats with friends, but loving to fill up with nourishing, fresh ingredients that give us a good kind of energy. I hope my kids remember me having fun in the kitchen. I hope they remember me giving them breathing room with food. Not saying "no" to everything, but teaching them that it's all about balance. Teaching them that part of a well-lived life is not focusing on how they look, but on how they feel.
I guess that's kind of how I view our life, in general. As a mixture. Looking forward to movie nights in with homemade popcorn, but equally loving our family walks at night in the chilly air. Styling with neutrals and texture, but sprinkling in pops of color here and there. Favoriting colder weather with sweaters and hot drinks, but embracing summer with cool pools and flip flops. Feeling the pull to travel the world, but loving the comforts of home. I think it all rounds out to a beautiful life, don't you?
When I want to find a healthy recipe full of flavor and using fresh ingredients, my go-to is Sprouted Kitchen. This Butternut Squash Soup has been on my regular dinner rotation for a couple of years. I promptly break it out when the weather begins to cool and it lends that comforting, hearty, soup feel that just can't be replaced. One word of advice, do not skimp on the avocado and corn crispy toppings. They complete this soup. Enjoy!!!!
BLACK BEAN + BUTTERNUT SOUP //
Serves 4-6 Some of my measurements are pretty vague, but in a stew-like soup, perfection is not necessary. Taste as you go, add more spice if necessary but beware that both chipotle and cayenne are SPICY, so start small. You can cook your beans from scratch or used canned for the sake of time.
1 Tbsp. coconut or extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 a small head of cabbage, chopped (heaping 2 cups)
3 cups cubed butternut squash (sweet potato would be good too)
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cocoa powder
pinch of chipotle powder or cayenne pepper
2 cups cooked, black beans (about one can, rinsed and drained)
salt to taste avocado, for garnish cilantro //
tortilla crispies //
3 corn tortillas scant
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
In a heavy bottomed pot, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until just beginning to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic, cabbage, squash and broth. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 15-20 minutes for the vegetables to cook. Add the spices and the beans and stir. Let everything continue to cook another ten minutes for the flavors to blend. Salt to taste. At this point, I did a few pulses with my immersion blender through the soup, because I wanted to thicken up the broth a bit. This is optional, but makes it seem a bit thicker. You could alternatively, run just a bit of the soup through a blender or food processor, and add it back in to the pot. OR a sprinkle of cornmeal will help thicken it as well. For the tortilla crispies, preheat the oven to 375'. Stack them and slice into thin matchsticks. Spread on a baking sheet, dirzzle with the oil, sprinkle the salt and toss gently to coat. Spread them in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes until they are light brown and crispy, giving the pan a shake halfway through. Garnish each both with some diced avocado, a handful of chopped cilantro and some of the tortilla crispies! A sprinkle of goat cheese would be quite nice as well.
Mary Beth Johnson, Annapolis & Company