In preparation for the launch of my new Clean Soups cookbook this week (yay!!!), we’ve created videos of me cooking soups with some of my dear friends and colleagues — to show you how creative and FUN it can be making soups with friends in the kitchen! We started with my dear neighbor and friend of over a decade, Julie Burford, in The soul of soup: cooking with my Soup Sister. Everybody keeps telling me they’ve become inspired watching this video, so if you haven’t seen it yet and you’re in the mood for something sweet, watch this.
Up next? Julie’s granddaughter Julia! I have watched her grow up since I moved into the neighborhood, when she’d come to her grandmother’s house and I’d stop by. As it happens, she’s an ace in the kitchen. Her grandmother, mother taught her to cook. She has SERIOUS kitchen chops. So when her grandmother said, “Rebecca… Julia needs to find a 6-week internship for her senior year in high school. Can she intern with you?”
Well, OF COURSE! I was just starting work on Clean Soups, and could absolutely use help in my test kitchen. She came to me in the mornings, and worked her butt off cooking for cancer patients with the Ceres Community Project in Marin in the afternoons. I thought, “oh good, she can chop vegetables for me.” But she became SO much more.
Turns out, Julia has GREAT taste buds. And she was my good luck charm! Everything she touched magically turned out to be especially, exceptionally good. You’ll see
With the right person, recipe creation is a wildly exciting adventure. Julia jumped right in! We started with blended soups, and nothing got past her VERY sophisticated taste buds. At 17! And she worked like the dickens.
Julia’d come down the street every day. I’d put an apron on her and she’d get to work. The Moroccan Carrot soup was something she thought a great deal about, which is why it became her Moroccan Carrot Soup. She thought it through. The spice mixture comes from a soup she made with her grandmother. We thought, let’s add the saffron to give it a whole nother dimension… We were in our creative zone, where a recipe mysteriously takes shape.
From my perspective, when I have an intern working with me, it is not about bossing them around. It’s about teaching, mentoring, helping my intern grow. And it’s always inspirational to teach! When you teach, you learn. Win/win.
Part of having Julia in the kitchen was talking through every step, which makes for good recipe development. Cooks can get a little sloppy; every step doesn’t necessarily make it to the page. But with someone next to you at the stove, we carefully note precisely how much saffron and how much cumin we add to make the taste absolutely perfectly right.
The best part was tasting the soups together.
She quickly became a Soup Master and a Flavor Master. She really nailed how soup should be, questioning, “How about a little more lemon?” and learning to know when the flavor is totally THERE. When we thought it was just right, she’d take it up to her grandmother to taste. Now in college, she’s passing her soup skills and flavors on to her friends.
Saffron is one of my favorite spices to cook with. Yes, it can be a bit costly, but you really need very little saffron to get a huge bang for your buck. Here it gives a luscious, exotic taste to the carrots, which are naturally sweet. Saffron is also a visual delight; in this soup the saffron looks like monks’ robes tossed against a vibrant orange background. Consider this dish a treat for all your senses.