Nowadays it seems like everyone is busy; overscheduled and overbooked. We have apps to help manage our lives, supposedly making things easier for us, however with the accessibility of technology, we still seem to be stressed out. When a crisis strikes, we find ourselves in the midst of chaos struggling to hold on until the storm passes. If we are lucky, we have family close by to help with simple things such as providing a meal or household chores.
Many of us, however, are not as fortunate to live close to our families. School and jobs take us away from each other, leaving many feeling isolated. It really does “take a village”, as Hillary Clinton’s 1996 book is titled, to help raise a family.
My parents live only an hour away so I feel fortunate that we can often see them. They provide us with support, hugs and food when the chips are down. When it is time to celebrate, food magically appears. When we are in pain, my mom brings a big pot of dal. When one of her friends has a health scare, she shows up with a homemade dish.
Because my girls have food allergies, we no longer can accept food from our friends or outside sources due to cross contamination. My mom however has been trained in all things allergy and either cooks extra batches when she comes over or cooks nut-free at home.
Food does not have to be fancy. Yes, there is joy in presenting a beautiful plate of styled food. However; there is so much more to it than just pretty looking food. The simplest of dishes does not mean it has to be simplistic. Spices, flavors and colors help to create depth to a dish. There is great comfort gained in opening a jar of dal that my mom has previously prepared especially on my most trying days. This is the meal I remember the most, one that not only nourishes but heals you with love.
These days, my comfort foods are mostly nourishing ones such as soup. The lifeline to a good soup is a good broth or stock. There are so many vitamins and minerals found in broths and stocks. Being an allergy mom, I make my own broths and stocks in bulk and freeze them in different size mason jars. I used to buy boxed but once you’ve made your own, there is no going back . The taste of soup is phenomenal when using a homemade variety.
I save my scraps in the freezer and add fresh vegetables along with spices, salt, pepper, and kombu. I throw everything into a large, tall stockpot and cover with enough water. Bring it to a boil, simmer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. No real measurements are needed. I’ve had great luck using my slow cooker for bone and chicken broths which have a longer simmer time. I use broths in everything from risotto, brown rice, polenta and so much more.
This soup is a favorite dish in our house. I’ve made it often with different results each time. I might change it up and add daikon instead of carrots or yam instead of sweet potato. You can substitute different spices or fresh herbs. You really can’t go wrong here.
This version has an asian inspired twist to it with the addition of coconut oil and milk. The coconut milk keeps it dairy-free and vegan while still providing a creamy component to the soup. The cilantro stems are optional. Since I cook a lot with cilantro, leftover stems are always found in our crisper drawer. The stems hold a great deal of flavor which pair nicely with the other flavors in this dish. Plus, what better way to add in some more greens?
If your kids won’t eat soup yet, serve it with bread and sausage. Cornbread goes really well here. Offer it in small portions until they get used to the taste. In time, they will learn to love it. My nine-year old daughter, who once refused to eat soup, asked me to make soup for her birthday dinner, last year. I was elated. Finally, a soup lover. There is hope!
I truly believe in the power of food creating community. We don’t have to feel isolated if we are living far away from our families. Our friends and neighbors become the family we choose. And it is a lovely thing to show gratitude to the people in our lives by giving the gift of food. I may not be able to accept the food you give me due to my daughters’ dietary restrictions but I will gladly share my soup with you.
I’ll end with this final quote by Alana Chernilla of The Homemade Kitchen, a cookbook filled with fuss free yet tasty recipes using real ingredients and plenty of kitchen wisdom. It is a sweet book to read, one that will warm your soul just as I hope my carrot-sweet potato soup will leave you feeling.
“People need to be fed when they are soft and open, freaked out or grieving. When the only way they’ll eat is if someone puts something in front of them. And at the same time, we have to feel brave enough to tread around their vulnerability, to tip-toe up their front porch steps and tap gently on the window, use our intuition to gauge whether we should open the door and wrap them in our arms before we go, or just leave dinner with a wave through the window. We have to be vulnerable ourselves, willing to take a risk, to do the wrong thing, to make a meal they don’t love, to show up at the wrong time. …When we bring dinner, we say: I’m your community. I’m here for you. Eat. “
Carrot-Sweet Potato Soup
Top 8 Free; Vegan
Serves 6-8. Freezes well, up to 3-6 months. When reheating, add more water and salt as soup thickens in the freezer.
- 2 tbl coconut oil
- 1 leek, half moons
- 2 whole green onion, sliced ( or ½ yellow onion, diced)
- 2-3 small garlic cloves
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- 8 carrots, sliced ( about 1 lb carrots)
- 1 medium sweet potato( yam), half moons
- ½ cup cilantro & stems(optional)
- 6-8 cups vegetable broth or water( I use a combination)
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1/4 c-1/2 c coconut milk
- 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil. Add leek and green onions. Add salt. Stir. Turn the heat to low and cover your pot. Check after a few minutes, letting the moisture on the lid drip back into the pot. Cook like this for about 10-15 minutes or until the onions are tender. Do not let onions brown.
Add garlic, ginger, turmeric and cumin. Stir for a few minutes until well combined. Add carrots, sweet potato or yam and cilantro stems. Add broth/water combination and deglaze by scraping bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil. Decrease heat to low. Simmer and cover until vegetables are softened about 20-25 minutes.
Take off heat. Let cool for a bit. Puree in a high-powered blender in batches. Put back in soup pot. Add coconut milk. Balance with salt, pepper, vinegar and lime. Add more liquid if needed to thin out.
Garnish with sprouts or cilantro stems and crushed red pepper flakes.
Share with friends because it will taste better and make you feel good ❤️