January is National Soup Month!
What?! I know, I’m as surprised as you are—who knew there was such a thing as National Soup Month? I thought it was simply soup season, as in October — February (because by March I’m really ready to move on to salads).
But thanks to my local coop, I know now that January is the time to wholeheartedly celebrate soup.
And it sure does feel like that, too, what with this “bomb cyclone” that’s hitting the Northeast right now. I usually make it a point to go outside at least once a day, but honestly, I’ve only ventured out for more firewood these past two days.
The kitchen, on the other hand, I’ve ventured there countless times.
For tea, cookies, and, of course, for soup!
Soup is one of my favorite things to make. Though simple toast and butter is my comfort food, making soup is my comfort act.
From chopping garlic and onions to the warming smells that bubble up as the ingredients simmer together, to ladling it out into bowls and sitting round the table with my family, making soup = making comfort.
When I first began cooking, I followed recipes often. Now I use them more for inspiration, and let the vegetables at hand lead me along.
Once a recipe melds into memory, the experience of cooking is as grounding and relaxing as reconnecting with a dear friend. Just like being with an old friend again, there is a process of both discovery and sinking into a comfortable, known rhythm.
And that’s exactly how I feel when I make carrot soup. It’s easy and familiar, yet it shifts depending on the seasoning at hand and what I’m craving.
Since I’m more of a “by feel” cook than by recipe, I’ll share my method and basic ingredients. You can adjust the amounts and play with it in any way that inspires you and your taste buds!
My favorite carrot soup:
- Olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4-6 medium carrots, chopped into 1” coins
- 1-2 white or yellow potatoes, chopped into 1” cubes
- Salt + Pepper
- Optional vegetables: celery, celeriac, parsnip
- Optional Seasonings: dill, thyme, curry, turmeric, paprika
Warm oil over medium heat, and sauté onions and garlic until onions are translucent and the kitchen smells glorious (about 3-5 minutes).
Add in chopped carrots and potatoes, and season with salt and any seasonings you want. Sauté for another 5 minutes or so, then add about 4 C of water and bring to a boil.
Turn down to a simmer, and simmer until veggies are soft enough for a fork to easily pierce through. Puree with an immersion blender, and top with fresh herbs and/or a dollop of cream if desired.
Another one of my old soup friends is Butternut Squash Soup.
The original recipe I followed came from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook. Now, it swirls into something a little different, but always delicious, each time.
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled + chopped into 1” cubes, with seeds reserved
- 1 medium shallot, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 TBS butter + a few TBS of olive oil
- Nutmeg + Cinnamon
- Optional: chicken stock
Warm oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed pot. Sauté shallots until translucent, add garlic and along with the seeds and stringy squash you scooped out from the seed cavity, and sauté for another 3-5 minutes over medium heat (don’t burn the shallots and garlic!). Sprinkle in a tsp of cinnamon and ¼-½ tsp nutmeg.
Add about 4 cups of water to the shallots and garlic, and steam the squash directly over the water/shallot mixture. When squash is soft, set it aside. Pour the water through a strainer, reserving all liquid in a bowl, and then add steamed squash to liquid and puree.
If desired, add a cup or so of chicken stock. This can be omitted to keep the soup vegetarian, but I’ve found it adds a lovely silkiness to the soup.
Adjust seasonings to taste, and enjoy!
How do you like to cook—recipes or no recipes?
What are your favorite meals that feed your soul and your body? Let me know in a comment below!
I hope you all have a warm and cozy weekend, with many delicious moments. And of course, Happy National Soup Month!
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