Spaghetti Squash Bisque / Food Loves Writing

Quick! Before the leaves are all gone! Make some soup and pack yourself a picnic! At least that’s what we did on Saturday, right in the middle of a day when we should have been getting ahead with work projects and, I don’t know, balancing the checkbook. Even though it was raining and the skies were gray, we practiced hope by loading up a picnic basket, hopping in the car, and driving 20 minutes east where, miraculously, we found ourselves in the crisp fall day that was The Hermitage.

November Picnic / Food Loves Writing

I don’t know what it’s like where you are right now, but here in Tennessee, fall is in full swing, pushing towards winter. At the beginning of last week, the giant tree in our front yard—the one so big, it hides our house from view on Google maps—was still mostly green; but overnight it turned orange, a fierce, fiery orange that took my breath away when I first saw it; then, on our blustery, storm-watch of a Halloween night, half of its leaves fell down. I’m wearing sweaters again, not coats, but sweaters and boots just the same. Daylight savings pushed us all to the brink of “Oh no! Winter’s coming!” woes and we’re all wondering how to make the most of dark 5 p.m. These are the literal golden days, the ones where you go for a walk and have 15 new photos on your iPhone because those trees! How can you ignore them when you take a second to look? And even if the place that you call home is already post-foliage and ensconced in snow, this is the only November 2013 you will ever have, so why not take an hour one day to pay attention to it?


That’s what sent us over to the The Hermitage Saturday. An 1,100-acre (!) estate known as the former home of Andrew Jackson and one of the largest open spaces in Nashville, The Hermitage has 32 historical buildings, two springs, a formal garden, a cotton field, and some of the prettiest collections of trees I’ve ever seen in Tennessee. We parked ourselves on a picnic table with our Goodwill blanket and basket of soup and overlooked rows of golden branches along the path that runs through the grounds.


While I was mostly there for the fall colors, Tim is, as he likes to say, the “curious sort,” so we worked our way through different historical signs and buildings and learned about the Tennessee man who was once our nation’s president. Big points to The Hermitage for not sugar-coating his history, which, as you may already know, involved being a unashamed proponent of slavery. There is something deeply grieving about walking into tiny buildings that once housed nine people or reading placards about how a long-time slave asked Jackson’s kids’ tutor how he’d feel in his shoes. It’s hard to believe slavery was once acceptable where we live. It’s hard to believe similar practices are acceptable in other places today. It makes you think that, you know, all of society can be telling you something is okay even when it is decidedly not.


While we walked on the land behind Jackson’s plantation-style home, it was with a view of cows grazing in the fields and white lights set up at The Cabin by the Spring, where a wedding reception was going to take place. Leaves flew through the air with the wind as we walked, leaves crunching beneath our steps.



We were only at The Hermitage for an hour or two, but it was an hour or two that felt worlds away from any place else, just me and Tim surrounded by the golden leaves and towering cedars and beautiful walkways curving through acreage. It was good for my spirit.

spaghetti squash bisque /

There is something about this season that makes me want to slow time down and park awhile. Early November for three weeks, please! But of course we can’t slow time down. We can’t increase how much of it we have. We can’t make autumn last forever, much as I’d like it if we could.

So these days, whenever I can, I’m taking a moment to look at and consider it. These are days to savor.

In the spirit of savoring: a video that gives you a taste of our life lately! (Recipe below)

Happy fall, with all of its leaf-raking, bread-baking, soup-sipping beauty, to each one of you, wherever you are. The song in the video is from Josh Garrels, one of our favorite lyricists, and the words in this one especially resonate with me and with the thoughts from our last post.

Curried Spaghetti Squash Bisque


Serving Size: A little over 4 cups


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • dash of crushed red pepper
  • teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 cups squash puree* (we used 2 cups spaghetti squash puree (from about one large squash) + 1 cup pumpkin puree (from about half a pie pumpkin))
  • 1 cup organic half and half
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dollops of yogurt and fresh herbs, to garnish, if desired


In a large stockpot over medium heat, warm two tablespoons of olive oil. Add chopped onion and garlic, stir together, and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the spices (turmeric, coriander, cumin, crushed red pepper, ginger) while things cook.

Add two cups vegetable stock and three cups squash puree to the pot, reduce heat to a simmer, and let cook 10 to 15 minutes. Remove soup from heat, and, using an immersion blender, puree it (or, working in batches, puree it in a food processor or Vitamix).

Next, add half and half and coconut sugar, stirring to dissolve. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, in bowls or mugs. Garnish with dollops of yogurt and/or chopped fresh herbs (we used parsley).


*To make squash or pumpkin puree: Preheat oven to 375F. Cut gourd in half and scoop out seeds. Lightly oil the cut sides and place the gourds, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Cook for 30 minutes to an hour, until a four easily pierces the flesh. Let cool. Scoop out insides. For a soup like this, you may use the flesh as is. For a pie or other uses, place the squash flesh in a food processor blender and pulse until super smooth.

Disclosure: Special thanks to The Hermitage for letting us tour your facility Saturday! You gave us a wonderful gift in surrounding us with your beauty. While our admission was free Saturday, all opinions expressed in this post are our own. To learn more about The Hermitage, go to

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. Amanda Paa (@amanda_paa)

    so love the video!! you guys are too cute. Kudos to your for slowing down. You’re so right when you say this is the only November 2013 we will ever have…

    1. Shanna Mallon

      aw, thanks, Amanda! It was Tim’s idea to make it and he did it on his iPad, and watching it now reminds me of the goodness in these last few days.

  2. Sarah Kate Branine

    Mmm. So many wonderfully great things about this post. (Tim’s napkin bib in the video! : ) And, man, if those trees could talk, huh?

    p.s. I’m going through Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 Gifts again with the ladies here. And it’s, once again, been brought to my lap at the perfect time– a perfectly timed reminder to slow down and enjoy and live.

    p.s.s I want a piece of that BREAD!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Sarah, Reading your comment reminds me that I don’t think I ever told you how much I enjoyed One Thousand Gifts. It was life-giving, and at a time when life was exactly what I needed. Thanks again for that giveaway! p.s. – We’ll share about that bread sometime later! : )

  3. petra

    I’m missing out on fall this year, so I really enjoy reading other people’s stories and seeing their photos. lovely pics!!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Oh, I’m so glad, Petra!

  4. Kathryn

    Oh, such a great video (and such beautiful pictures in this post). I feel like fall is just whizzing past but this is a good reminder to make the most of it before winter really sets in.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thanks, Kathryn, and me too! I look around and think, “November 6! How is that possible?” just the way I do every year at this time… these days are such good gifts.

  5. Amina | PAPER/PLATES

    That video makes me wish we’d made time to stop by The Hermitage when we were in Nashville!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      : ) Next time!

  6. felicia | Dish by Dish

    absolutely adored the peak into your lives through film!! hey, btw, was it cinnamon bread you were making? and btw, not sure if I told you before, but you & tim make such a cute and good-looking couple!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      It was! We’ll be telling you more about that in the next few weeks sometime… : ) And thanks!

  7. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Cool! I’ve never made soup with spaghetti squash before. Yum!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Katrina. Pureeing roasted spaghetti squash has been a game changer for me with the vegetable. I’m still not on Team Spaghetti Squash Texture so finding other ways to eat it is HUGE. This is a great example, and I also like roasting it and scooping out the flesh to mash with roasted potato for a big vegetable mash. So good!

  8. Joanna

    I love a glimpse at you two doing your life! You have the prettiest, most elegant hands. And I know how giving those hands are, which makes me like them even more. Happy beautiful fall!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Oh, you. Stop it. I was thinking about you so much today, p.s. I miss your voice.

  9. ashley c

    so sweet! i can’t wait for that cinnamon roll bread recipe!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      : ) Thanks, A!

  10. Emma Galloway

    You guys are the cutest! Great video and beautiful photos xx

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thank you, sweet Emma!

  11. Nick

    You can cook spaghetti squash in different ways, cut up or whole, by baking, boiling, microwaving, or even in a crock pot. It’s the feel good comfort food of the season.

    All that said, I never would have imagined soup. Very clever! Considering the kids don’t like the texture, maybe I can slide it by them this way.

    Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Your kids sound like me! If ever there were a good way to get past that texture issue, it’s this. Enjoy!

  12. Nicole

    I felt the same way when the wind started to pick up around Halloween! I wanted to tell the wind to “hold on” while I enjoyed the fall trees some more. Your trip to The Hermitage sounds perfect on a beautiful fall day and I agree that it’s best when historical facts aren’t sugar-coated, but real. I also found myself over at your doughnut post (yum!) and the beautiful words there. Joy and positivity just emanates from your blog. Yes, let’s all root for one another!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Amen, Nicole! Cheering for you and Dula Notes from Nashville and so appreciate your taking the time to stop by and say hi here!

  13. Lindsey | The Next Course

    I read this post on my phone last night, before I went to bed. Today, walking around Charlottesville, your words kept returning to me, reminding me to savor the colors of the leaves still on the trees, the crunch of those that have fallen to the ground. I so loved the little glimpse into your life through the video :-)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Oh, Lindsey, thank you for your generous words. I’m so glad we’ve found you in the blog community. You’re always a blessing.

  14. Medha

    First time on your blog and I am loving it. Such a gorgeous pictures and writing . Love the video too about simple – things in life. I am hooked on your blog now:)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Medha, I’m so glad you left this comment because it led me to your site, and your site is lovely! I’m a new subscriber and fan.

  15. Kris

    This video is great, Shanna! I love catching glimpses of your personalities. Tim is adorable eating the bread (soo good) and the bread, itself, looks delightful. Well done!!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Haha, he is adorable! Thanks for watching it, Kris! : )

  16. Gina

    I am sooo impressed…you two are amazing!! Love you guys. 😉

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Aw, thanks, Gina. The video was all your brother (and on his iPad!) — I was impressed, too. Love you too!

  17. Cheryl

    I just clicked over to this post from the cookbook announcement one (CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!) and am totally and thoroughly enraptured by your video. Well done, Shanna. The two of you are on fire.

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