Peaceful Meiji Jingu

When in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, you can take a path through the park to reach the grounds of Meiji-Jingu shrine - a shrine dedicated to the Meiji Emperor since 1920. 

Upon entering the gates of the forest, the heat, noise, and hustle-bustle of the city disappears and you find yourself engulfed in serenity.  The large boulevard-esque path leading to the shrine, is surrounded by tall trees in a forest of 120,000 broad leaf evergreens.  They stand tall above you as shelter and you can imagine how many feet have walked this path to the shrine in years past, shaded by the trees.  

What I found most fascinating and beautiful were the large torii gates - wooden structures that are believed to mark the transition from mundane to sacred in Shintoism.  

Sake barrels, donated by the sake makers of Japan were also sent as a blessing and decorate the path to the shrine. 

A monk stands quietly seeking donations in a brass bowl from passersby. When one drops something into his bowl, he breaks into a melodious song - perhaps well wishes - for you. 

Rain in my soup

It rained this evening, bringing a nice chill into the home and a more than perfect mood for hot soup.   That is -- Roasted Pepper and Butternut Squash soup. And with this weather and those ingredients, I can see Fall peeking around the corner.   

I enjoyed this soup with a nice book and a cool breeze.  Recipe after the images.

Roasted Pepper and Butternut Squash Soup

Prep Time: 1 hour (roasting vegetables) | Cook Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes 

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 Medium Butternut Squash
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers
  • 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp Ginger, grated 
  • 4 Cups Stock/Broth (Vegetable or Meat, as preferred)
  • 2 tsp Ground Black Pepper 
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala (All Spice)
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • Salt (optional, to taste)


Pre-heat oven to 400 F.  Prepare 2 separate baking trays for roasting the Butternut Squash and Bell Peppers by wrapping with aluminum foil.  

Cut Butternut Squash in half, remove seeds, and lay the squash with insides facing up, drizzle olive oil on top.  

Remove stems from Red Bell Peppers and place on foiled tray.  

Place both trays in heated oven, taking care to remove Bell Peppers after about 20 minutes (or when the skin starts shriveling).  The Butternut Squash will need to roast for longer, about an hour or until a knife can easily cut through the flesh.  

Meanwhile, prepare the soup base in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil to pot along with the chopped onion.  Stir fry until translucent, then add the grated ginger; continue to stir fry for 5 minutes, then reduce heat until next step. 

When veggies are done roasting, remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before handling.  The Red Bell Peppers will be soft enough to shred/tear apart with fingers, add these in chunks into the stockpot/soup base.  Use a spoon to scoop the roasted Butternut Squash into the stockpot as well; the squash should be pulpy and soft enough for this task.  

Immediately, add the Vegetable or Meat stock into the pot and cook on medium heat.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add the Ground Black Pepper, Garam Masala, Oregano, and Salt (optional).   Stir to incorporate all flavors.   

Using a hand blender, blend the vegetables in the stockpot until soup has a thick and creamy consistency.  At this point, if the soup seems too thick you can adjust by adding more broth as desired.   

Serve immediately and enjoy!