All cooks have their core specialities. Mine is soup!
In my mind’s eye, I can still see the little girl who learned to make soup while sitting atop the yellow formica kitchen counter, watching in wonder as three generations of women worked their culinary magic over my Ma’s flame-enameled Le Creuset cast iron soup pot. I inhaled the intoxicating aromas, fell in love with spices, and felt deeply nourished by the laughter, the stories and the warmth of the cup of soup that found its way into my hands.
The makings of a soup master
Decades later, I studied at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts healthy chef training program. One of my instructors, Chef Rich LaMarita, pulled me aside in class one day. He must have seen that I wasn’t intimidated by soup making — I had learned that soup makers constantly taste their soup while it’s simmering, to course correct in the pot — because Rich said to me, “You have the instincts to become a master soup maker! I’m going to teach you everything I know about soups!”
And he did.
Throughout my twenty-year culinary consulting and cooking career in the food-as-medicine movement, I’ve been, first and foremost, a soup maker, employing my sorcery at The Chopra Center for Health and Well-Being, Dr. Andrew Weil’s annual Nutrition and Health Conference, the Food As Medicine professional training program and the Commonweal Retreat Center in Bolinas, CA. It was at Commonweal’s retreats, where I often cooked for seriously ill people, that I realized how energizing a nutrient-dense, delicious soup could be. People who could barely eat would return again and again to the soup pot, doling out a little liquid health with each swipe of the ladle.
Flash forward to today, and I’m here to tell you why getting more soup into your life is so important.
Eating soup is a way to hit the body’s reset button, to allow internal organs devoted to detoxification the space and nutrients necessary to successfully do their job. The result, from a health viewpoint, is often startling. People who up their soup intake describe their improved physical and mental state with words such as revitalized, regenerated, nourished, comforted, energized, healed, restored, and recharged.
No one should really be surprised. Soup is life distilled into a bowl. Modern science shows us that many of the veggies, herbs and spices that go into today’s soups have fantastic healing properties. Take your pick: building immunity, fighting cancer, overcoming digestive issues, giving your memory a boost…soup can help get you there. That it does this while giving you the equivalent of a warm, culinary hug is all the better. Comfort food, soup be thy Name!
Meet my new book baby!
She’s a darling little baby, with 60 yumalicious recipes, and everything you need to know to make GREAT soup! And she’s absolutely stunning, thanks to my editor at Ten Speed Press, Kelly Snowdon, who thought of me for this dream project, and to the dream team led by SUPERB art director and designer Kara Plikaitis, with brilliant photographer Eva Kolenko and magical stylist, Jeffrey Larson. The pictures are drop-dead gorgeous.
When Eva pinned the shot of my famous Magic Mineral Broth on the board, Kara said,
“That’s it! That’s the cover!” My eyes filled with tears. I call MMB my “overnight sensation after 16 years,” my signature healing broth, and the flavor difference in my famous “cashmere sweater”, creamy blended soups. I’m SO thrilled MMB is the cover girl!
This book is dedicated to the proposition that everyone can enjoy making soup.
We’ve started making videos called The Soup Sessions, where I’m cooking with and talking to friends, family and colleagues, and exchanging soup-making notes, secrets and stories. Throughout the fall you’ll be seeing these. Soup is a universal language, and a conversation worth having. I hope you’ll join in.
On sale September 6.
Though you may think it’s too soon to start thinking about soup, I’ve included the PERFECT soup for right now!
Chilled Watermelon Soup with Chile and Lime
The last thing you want to do on a steamy day is turn on the burners in the kitchen. That’s where this chilled soup comes in. Watermelon is so refreshing and hydrating (not to mention it’s full of the outstanding antioxidant lycopene) that it’s the perfect summertime soup. Adding olive oil and jalapenos to the mix might seem strange, but you have to trust me on this: the oil makes the soup more satiating, while the jalapeno kick blends deliciously with the sweet of the watermelon. The mint provides an ideal high note. A little of this soup goes a long way.