Bur Oak Winter Soup (Inspired by Bowerbirds)

“And he asked us what we had done for our souls lately”
— “Bur Oak” by Bowerbirds (from 2007’s Hymns for a Dark Horse)


Butternut and acorn squash soup

Bowerbirds’ music is perfect for fall and winter: It’s peaceful and emotional, and the different moods in their songs are usually expressed through references to nature. All of their music feels warm to me, but in “Bur Oak,” the line “And he asked us what we had done for our souls lately” in particular makes me think of comfort food. On a cold fall or winter day, what’s better than coming home to a warm bowl of soup? I think taking care of our souls is very much related to what we put into our bodies and how we take care of our bodies — so a soul-satisfying dish should be hearty and filling, but also healthy. Also, the inclusion of acorn squash is a play on the title, with the oak tree. Then in the song “In Our Talons,” Phil Moore and Beth Tacular sing, “It takes a lot of nerve to destroy this wondrous earth,” which made me decide the dish should be vegan, so it’s as earth-friendly as possible (and the squash was bought locally, from the Union Square Greenmarket). Lastly, I served it with cornbread (I used this recipe; it’s not vegan, but I have seen vegan cornbread recipes!) because it’s one of the first foods that come to mind when I think of soul food, and it’s great with soup.

“It takes a lot of nerve to destroy this wondrous earth”
— “In Our Talons” (also from Hymns for a Dark Horse)


Bowerbirds are a folk group from North Carolina, led by multi-instrumentalists Phil Moore and Beth Tacular, though they usually have at least one other musician with them. They’re one of my favorite live bands — everyone switches instruments after nearly every song: acoustic guitar, a marching band-style bass drum, various other percussion instruments, strings … They’re so lovely and have so much positive energy.


2 small butternut squash
2 acorn squash
2 medium onions
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp each curry powder, ginger, cumin
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 qt vegetable broth
salt/pepper to taste
olive oil
Plain or Greek yogurt or sour cream, or a vegan substitute (optional)


• Halve the butternut and acorn squash.

• Remove the seeds with a spoon and roast at 400 degrees for about an hour, until soft.

• Scoop the flesh out and set aside.

• Dice the onions and mince the garlic. Sautee them in olive oil until translucent.

• Add ginger, curry, cumin and cinnamon and mix. Add the squash, then the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer (about 5-10 minutes). Add salt and pepper as needed.

• Let cool, then puree with an immersion blender (or you can use a food processor, but I highly recommend getting an immersion blender! You can get one at Target for $20.). Leave plain, or garnish with a dollop of plain or Greek yogurt.


2 thoughts on “Bur Oak Winter Soup (Inspired by Bowerbirds)

  1. […] Bowerbirds, “Tuck the Darkness In” The Clearing is a fitting name for Phil Moore and Beth Tacular’s third LP as Bowerbirds: A clearing is a clean slate to start over again, and these songs came out of Beth battling an extreme illness, the couple breaking up and getting back together, rescuing a stray dog, and beginning to build a cabin together in the woods. [Recipe: Acorn squash soup, inspired by Bowerbirds] […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s