Hi. I've been gone awhile and I've missed you. It was nothing you did, I promise. I went on vacation to Mexico where I spent my 33rd birthday and it was exactly what I needed. I stepped off my hamster wheel of spinning thoughts and routines and settled into daily nothingness with loose plans of what food to eat and which beach to go to. I took the time I needed to breathe and be in my body and sigh out loud while watching the waves roll in and out. I did nothing and everything. I asked myself what truly feels good for me lately. What makes me feel inspired? What feels stuck? How can I move forward while keeping aligned and not overwhelmed?
I debated if I want to continue creating this blog. I love it and it's been one of the best learning experiences about myself and my capabilities, but I was feeling unsure if this is still where I want to be putting my free time and energy. It can feel lonely and disconnected writing into an abyss of space that hangs in the air and on screens. It's easy to fall into a comparison trap on social media where you're left feeling like you don't have enough or you're not where you want to be while seeing your dream life lived by other people. These incomplete feelings aren't real though, they're made up by my mind. By all of our minds. I recently had someone send me a message on Instagram that said, “do you do food blogging full-time? Because your life looks like a dream". This astounded me and I actually laughed out loud at how anyone could think that was my life. The funniest part was I felt the exact same way about her– that she had a dreamy life I coveted. I realized I assume that about a lot of people online. I find there's not a ton of transparency with online presences on how they got to where they are. I always read interviews that mention “a lot of hard work" and “I kept believing in myself". Although I'm sure these are true, the rest of us want to know how. Like actually how– the details, the steps, the mistakes, the times you were about to give up, what made you keep going. I want to hear about the human stuff, the relatable stuff. A lot of hard work and believing in myself are sentences I've heard my entire life and aren't new information. Without the details, it feels like there are secrets to success that no one is revealing. And guys, I love secrets. And I love details. Or maybe these details are so irrelevant to successful people because they've already made it and don't need that information anymore. Who knows? Do you? If you do– tell me?
I've been craving doing creative things with my hands and less online. I wish the days were longer so I could experience and create more. My serving job is essential right now to pay my bills but it takes a lot out of me. It's a much faster pace than I prefer to live my life at. And this life really is short– I can feel it in the quickness of the days, the anxious feeling that comes with dusk, the moments I wake unexpectedly at 5 am and debate getting up to see the sun rise but then tell myself “another day" and fall back asleep. How can I create a life with more time and slowness? I'm forever working on it. I'd love to hear your suggestions.
A friend and I read tarot card last night. Mine urged to me continue moving forward with current projects and that was the small sway I needed to rededicate myself to working in this space. My goal is to maintain the blog and make time for other creative activities that give me a sense of relief and disconnection from my day-to-day. For me, this will mean less scrolling social media, less tv, and more action-to-begin rather than procrastination. I am excited about this renewed feeling and sense of self. It will be a loving self that moves slowly even when there's a lot going on. I've also been re-evaluating this blog in terms of what I can offer you. I want to hear you, to help you, to know what you like or find interesting. What are your favourite parts about these posts? What do you want more of? Comment or send me a message and let me know, I would love to produce more content you want to see. That's where this soup comes in. I posed these questions to a friend. She said she loves when I make recipes approachable and the tips, tricks and whys on making food.
I wanted to create a guide where you can learn to follow your cooking intuition and create a soup out of almost any vegetables you have laying around. Soups are easy, they don't take a lot of effort and are nourishing and delicious. One of the skills that is the most valuable in cooking is to understand the basics of a recipe so you can create one your own. I have a recipe at the bottom which you can follow directly, but this post is to act as a manual to help you feel confident in your technique and the steps of making a soup.
After basking in sunlight and sea for ten days, it can feel pretty miserable returning to feet of snow and -20 °C weather. Some things that help me are:
- making hot and nutritious food and drinks like this soup
- practicing self care (yoga, a good skin care routine, home spa nights)
- the strikingly beautiful winter sunsets
Because the air is less hazy and more crisp and clear in cold weather, it creates brightly coloured skies upon sunrise and sunset. Every night brings fiery oranges and reds, cotton candy pinks and blues, or a rainbow gradient as the sun dips below the horizon. Our world is what we focus on. Right now, I choose beauty and slowness to centre my attention on.
What kinds? Almost any vegetable will work for a soup! Make sure to pick vegetables you enjoy. For extra easiness and minimal thought, use vegetables that are all similar in physical structure (eg. all root vegetables, broccoli + cauliflower, etc). If you want to blend an array of vegetables with structural ranges, stagger your cooking times. Firm vegetables all go in together and any type of green (kale, collard greens, spinach) are added at the end with 5 minutes or less left on cooking time.
Consider balancing flavours with vegetables (eg. don't use all bitter vegetables like turnip, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts etc). Use a few but balance them out with a sweet vegetable (sweet potato) or neutral vegetable (cauliflower, potato).
Tip: You can balance extra bitterness with a creamy component like yogurt, cheese, cream, or coconut milk. Or a salty component like bacon. You can balance stinky notes from cabbage with some lemon juice and/or white beans.
Use whatever broth you like! For pureed vegetable soups I prefer organic chicken or vegetable broth. If you have a limited amount of broth on hand, make up the rest of the liquid with water (plus extra salt). I do this all the time if I'm missing a cup or two of broth and it still always tastes amazing but you must remember the extra salt or it may end up a bit flat or bland since the salty umami flavour is a major component of broth flavour. I salt to taste. To do this, taste the broth on its own. Now add the water and taste again. It will taste flatter and watered down. Now add a good pinch of kosher salt, mix and taste. Continue adding a little more and tasting each time until it tastes like full flavour broth again but not “salty".
This is the first (and most important flavouring step) of the soup. Cooking aromatics in some fat to begin a soup is very important. It releases flavours and is the main component of what will give your soup depth and deep delicious flavours. To begin, heat your heavy bottomed soup pot on medium-high. Add a tablespoon of preferred fat. How to know when your pan is hot enough: add a single drop of water after your fat and if it sizzles, your pan is ready for the aromatics. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Stir often while they cook until translucent. Add other aromatics once the onions are cooked.
Try: fresh ginger, herbs (dried or fresh), spices, chilis, curry paste and garlic.
Tip: Garlic burns easily so add it last of all aromatics and reduce your temperature while constantly stirring for a minute or two before moving on to the next step.
Olive oil, coconut oil, butter, ghee, avocado oil, animal fat, etc.
Deglazing the bottom of a pot is important to scrape all those flavourful brown bits off the bottom. By adding a splash of white wine or vinegar, it creates immediate steam that releases these bits and adds a hint of acid to help balance the base of the soup. You can substitute with a splash a broth to do the same thing if you don't have wine or vinegar.
Building the Soup
Add all your vegetables (except greens) and broth to a large pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Leave the lid off while you let your soup simmer for 30 minutes of so. Leaving the lid off lets steam release which allows the liquid to cook down and concentrates the flavours. I taste the soup after 15 minutes or so and add more salt if needed. I find by 30 minutes the flavours are well developed but you can leave it for longer if you want it more concentrated in flavour, just keep in mind that it will yield less soup since the liquid decreases with the lid off.
Once you are happy with the flavour, ladle the soup in to a blender and puree until smooth (or use a hand blender). Sometimes I serve it right away after blending. You can also pour it back into the pot and cook over low for 5 to 10 minutes to develop more flavours. Add a bit of acidity if it tastes too rich– a splash of white wine vinegar or a good squeeze of lemon will add a brightness to the soup without making it taste too acidic. Start with a little bit, it goes a long way. You can also add a creamy element at this point if you like (coconut milk or cream). If you do, keep the temperature on low to mix the creamy component so it does not curdle.
For me, a pureed soup needs a topping. It feels more complete and adds texture. I use a few things of whatever I have on hand.
Try: fresh herbs, toasted nuts or seeds, croutons, crushed Mary's crackers, parsnip (or other vegetable) crisps, herb oil, sliced green onions, roasted vegetables, roasted chickpeas, poached egg, sausage, bacon, cheddar cheese.
Let's all do things that make us feel good, okay?
ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP WITH PARSNIP CRISPS
inspiration: cold winter days and nights
the feels: warm, creamy, smooth, earthy
eat with: crusty bread, Mary's crackers, fresh herbs, herb oil, poached egg, sliced sausage, bacon, grated cheese, ground meat.
might like if you're into: cozy cottages, self care, detoxing, food in bowls, historical fiction books or tv, cellars, log cabins, one pot meals, watching the fire.
makes 8 cups of soup (4 to 6 servings) || time: 45 minutes
- 8 cups of peeled and chopped root vegetables (this particular soup contained the following)
- 3 parsnips (for soup) + 1 for crisps
- 3 carrots
- 2 yellow potatoes
- 1 turnip
- 1 celeriac
- 5 cups vegetable broth (or chicken)
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled + grated
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or diced
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ground pepper to taste
- splash of white wine vinegar or white wine (for deglazing)
- optional: squeeze of lemon for each bowl before serving to brighten
- topping suggestions: parsnip crisps, fresh parsley, herb oil, sliced green onions, crushed Mary's Crackers, croutons, toasted nuts or seeds, roasted vegetables, roasted chickpeas, poached egg, sausage, bacon, cheddar cheese.
- Heat large pot over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté until translucent (5 to 8 minutes). Add any other aromatics you are using (this recipe is ginger) and cook for another 2 minutes. Add garlic (and another tablespoon of oil if needed) and sauté for one more minute. The bottom of your pot may be brownish and a bit sticky. Pour a splash of white wine vinegar and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add herbs (thyme and rosemary) and mix.
- Add root vegetables and stir to coat. Pour in broth and turn to high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce temperature to a simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes uncovered. Taste and add up to a teaspoon of kosher salt. When using vegetable broth I usually prefer the whole teaspoon. Chicken broth may need less. If your broth tastes slightly bland, it needs salt.
- Ladle soup into blender and puree until smooth. Pour back into pot and simmer for another 5 minutes or so and add anything else (more salt or ground pepper) you may like.
- Ladle into bowls. Add any toppings you like and add a squeeze of lemon to brighten the soup.
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Using a thin setting on a mandolin, shave a pre-peeled parsnip into very thin slices. Lay on baking sheet and brush with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 3 to 8 minutes depending on thickness (check them at three and then every minute following). Be careful not to burn them. Let cool.