Jan 01, 2013 07:45PM
I find one of the most comforting things on a gray and blah winter day can be the wonderful aromas of a soul-satisfying pot of soup simmering over a low flame on the stove. The bouquet of soup instantly warms my spirit and brings back a flood of childhood memories.
My dad loved to make soups and breads and we often cooked together on weekends churning out beef stew, minestrone, chili and split pea with ham hocks. We’d make bread in a coffee can and enormous gooey cinnamon rolls. No matter the contents of the bowl, my dad’s soups were made to nourish and warm the belly. There was nothing like warm soup and freshly baked bread on a cold winter’s day in the Midwest. This was also easy, nourishing time with my dad, him sharing his cooking wisdom and we soaking all of it in—like being wrapped in a big cuddy blanket with nowhere to go and no need to rush.
So, whether it’s a result of the way I was raised or the product of loving to cook, we enjoy a lot of soup in our house, both at home and out. We love both cooked and uncooked variations. Soups have surpassed the typical varieties of my childhood to include fruits, a whole range of summer soups, dairy and gluten free options. Many draw on other cultures and traditions. Oh, and what we can do with our blenders! Currently, I have a recipe pulled and on the counter for ”pear soup with curried pecans.”
Despite the many options, vegetable soup remains one of my favorites. A simple veggie soup needn’t be difficult. Gather the pot, a sharp knife and cutting board, a veggie brush (the skins hold a lot of nutrients you lose when you peel a carrot) and a couple of bowls to hold your chopped ingredients. Clean your veggies. Smash, peel and chop a couple of garlic cloves. Mince up some leek, carrot and celery (save the leaves!). Then have fun chopping what you like—daikon radish, turnip, sweet potato, yellow beet, rutabaga, celeriac, zucchini, etc. Vary the cuts for texture and balance. Ribbon-cut some leafy greens like spinach or kale. Cook up some beans or use canned. Save time with low sodium veggie broth and canned tomatoes. Add a grain if you like. Use lots of dried herbs—basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary. Get it all prepped and ready to go before you start cooking.
Then build your masterpiece. The most flavorful soups are “layered.” Add, salt and sauté veggies by cooking time (carrots and celery are typically always first). Dried herbs can go in with the oil, with the layers of vegetables and at the end. Cooked beans go in later. Toss in fresh celery and spinach leaves right before serving to maintain flavor and brilliant color. If you can, invest in a few colorful soup bowls to add more interest to your meal. Before you dip your spoon, close your eyes, breathe in the heady aroma and smile to yourself.
With these warming thoughts, we’d like to welcome you to a new year of Natural Awakenings. We look forward to bringing you fresh ideas to inspire and motivate you toward a more healthful, sustainable and rewarding life in 2013.
Here’s to the New Year, and here’s to you!
Holly Baker, Publisher