Creamy Carrot, Sweet Potato + Fennel Soup
In any kind of career that we choose to take on, there are points along the road at which we ask ourselves why we do the work. What drew us to it and why do we continue? I recently reflected on these questions in terms of being a teacher- of both contemporary dance and yoga. Now that I finished a performance and my focus is swinging back towards my classes again, I ask myself- why do I teach these practices and what do I hope to give to my students?
Just after finishing a particularly technical dance class last week, I thought about the fact that through both of these movement vocabularies, you learn to better concentrate on each part of the body, one piece at a time and as a whole. You begin to connect the mind with physicality, with patience and grace. You start to notice patterns, really understanding when something does and doesn’t feel right and what small adjustments you might be able to make to help create more ease and openness. You learn that you don’t need to be “fixed,” you just need to be better understood. Perhaps starting with a teacher, and then on your own.
Whenever I ask myself why I teach, this is always an answer that arises- encouraging the practice of intuition. Being able to help others reconnect and understand their own bodies, learning how to live within them with more comfort, peace, and joy.
Erin Loechner wrote in her book Chasing Slow that “it takes work to change your perspective, work that is not easily done when you’re looking everywhere else.” Contemporary dance and yoga are two practices that work on looking inwards, paying attention to the inner subtleties and learning how to move your whole self through space. Over time, your general perspective is able to shift towards being more perceptive, more aware, more intuitive. I, personally, know that being a dancer and then adding in yoga as another element has given me such a gift of being able to listen to my own body and understand its signals. This practice of unifying thought and movement is something I feel compelled to share and try to inspire in others.
While the specific kind of intuition that I aim to teach is centered around movement, I believe that having this innate knowledge can naturally spread to other parts of your life outside of a studio. Having more awareness of my body in motion also increases awareness even when it is still. I feel that dance has taught me how to better listen to the signs that something is off- if I am getting sick, whether I’m physically or emotionally hungry, etc. Basic needs, feelings and emotions can too often get tuned out if we are not paying attention. To be intuitive is to be an active listener in your own body, and learning to dance, do yoga, or any other mindful physical practice is really just the first stepping stone.
How do you cultivate your own inner intuition?
A lot of the talk out there about intuition, lately, centers around intuitive eating and how we try to honor what our bodies’ want in order to feel both happy and healthy. It is not something that I teach directly, but I am positive that learning to be a thinking dancer and more mindful yogi has made me more aware of my body’s needs and cravings.
When the weather turns chilly, rainy and grey, cravings naturally turn to bowls of warmth and comfort. Stews, soups, and anything slow-roasted in the oven. Hot soup with some bread and butter on the side always feels like a giant hug when it gets cold out and that is all that my body is asking for lately. A healthy, hearty, loving hug. Say hello to this carrot, sweet potato and fennel soup. It is full of soul-warming spices like turmeric, ginger and cumin and is made extra creamy with the addition of normal potatoes along with the other veggies, blending up to smooth perfection. I like to top it either with a drizzle of tahini or coconut cream and some extra fennel sprigs. If your body is also starting to craving winter comforts, this soup is exactly what you may need.
Creamy Carrot, Sweet Potato + Fennel Soup
Makes about 4-5 servings, vegan + gluten-free
4-5 medium/large carrots, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
1 medium bulb of fennel, sliced
1 large potato, cubed
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil or neutral cooking oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Salt & pepper to taste (be generous)
4-5 cups (roughly 1 liter) water or vegetable stock
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium flame. Once hot, turn down the burner to medium-low and add the onion and garlic, sautéing until fragrant and the onions are translucent. Add in the fennel, spices, salt + pepper and give it a stir. Toss in the carrots, sweet potato, and potato, mixing to coat with the spices, then pour in the water or stock. Bring to a boil, cover, then bring back down to a simmer. Cook for about 20-25 minutes or until all of the vegetables are soft.
Remove from heat, stir in the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and taste the broth, just in case it needs extra salt or pepper. Blend the soup either with an immersion blender or wait for it to cool down and then transfer to a stand blender, pureeing until completely smooth and silky. Serve hot with extra fennel sprigs and a drizzle of coconut cream, tahini, yogurt, or whatever you like.