You know how people talk about comfort eating? Let’s talk about comfort cooking.
About hours in the kitchen, about softening onions and garlic in olive oil, stirring pots of soup, melding distinct scents into a new aroma that wafts up and envelopes you as you stand by the stove, wooden spoon in hand.
For all the time spent growing and harvesting, it’s not until fall that I slip back into the kitchen.
It’s the irony of being an organic farmer—we don’t spend much time cooking in the summer. Amidst all the work, we prioritize easy, simple meals that don’t take long to make. But now the days are shortening, easing us away from the fields earlier each day, and I wish for long hours alone in the kitchen, music playing in the background.
So as the days grow colder, I’m wrapping myself in the comfort of soup simmering on the kitchen stove.
Of all the recipes there are to make, carrot soup is my favorite.
Unlike tomato or minestrone or squash or chicken soup, this one is built on root crops, and is grounding in a way the others can’t be.
Carrots and potatoes form the base of my recipe, and together they ground me in warmth, in the sureness and sweetness of soil. They offer me comfort from their own experience: you will be uprooted, but only then can you meld with the wonders around you in a new way.
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. When I get a certain recipe down close to memory, like the soup described below, the experience of cooking is as grounding and relaxing as reconnecting with a dear friend. And just like being with an old friend again, there’s a process of both discovery and sinking into a comfortable, known rhythm.
With that, here’s my go-to carrot soup recipe.
Since it’s slightly different each time, I’ve written it here with ingredients and suggested amounts, but I encourage you to experiment and find your favorite ratios. I like to think of making soup as recipe-improv—giving you the characters, and letting you create a story in your own kitchen.
- Oil: extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- Onion, chopped (1 small-medium)
- Garlic, chopped (2-3 cloves, depending on your taste)
- Carrots, sliced into half-circles (1 lb)
- Potatoes, chopped into 1” cubes (2-3 mid-sized, I like creamy varieties like german butterball or yukon gold best)
- Water, to cover roots (about 4-6 cups)
- Sea salt to taste
- Optional: herbs (dill, thyme, parsley); spices (curry, turmeric, black pepper); cashews, sour cream or plain yogurt for topping
- Sauté onions and garlic over medium heat until onions are translucent.
- Add chopped carrots, potatoes, salt, and any seasonings you’re using. Sauté for about 5 minutes, letting the seasonings meld into the roots.
- Add water so the roots are covered by about 2” (the amount of water you use will affect how thick or thin your final soup is. If it’s too thick, you can always add more water at the end).
- Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer until the roots are soft.
- Puree with an immersion blender (or pour soup into a blender and blend until smooth).
- Optional: Garnish with a handful of cashews, or spoonful of sour cream or yogurt. If you made this an herbed soup, finish with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley or dill.
- Serve with fresh baked biscuits.
How do you like to cook? What meals feed your soul even as you cook? I’d love to know, and I’d love to try cooking them, too.