I am obsessed with making soup.
Every inch of it. The way a few humble handfuls of ingredients can be simmered, stewed, pureed, blended, and twisted into something sublime. The feeling of spooning something from a warm bowl snug in your hands. And of course, the bounty of nutrition soups offer, and how they can be topped with a million things, like tart yogurt, crunchy nuts and seeds, a drizzle of infused oil, cubes of creamy avocado or roasted tofu, handfuls of crisp microgreens, a pile of fresh herbs, the leaves from a stalk of celery — literally, anything. Expand your mind. Think beyond the puree.
My husband can confirm this obsession. His puppy eyes recently begged for a few dinner options of a more solid variety, because I guess some people like to masticate.
Beyond that, there is something I find deeply soothing about the process of making a soup. It is my preferred source of meditation, and one of my most grounding and treasured rituals. Without fail I make a pot every Sunday, and I will not frighten you with the amount of time I spend scouring recipes throughout the week trying to land on which one to choose.
I particularly crave this ritual when I need a reset. Not a detox, not a cleanse, but a simple recharge. A soothing meal that puts my body and mind back on course, amped with nutrients.
My husband, Matt, and I spent two weeks traveling over the holidays, visiting family in Iowa and Atlanta, and it was wonderful. I had pizza more frequently in two weeks than I’ve had in months, ate my way through pounds of guacamole, drank all the red wine in the land, and made two batches of my very favorite peanut butter balls (note: if you come from a household where mothers or grandmothers made peanut butter balls and used WAX TO MAKE THEM SHINY OMFG, you’ll want to bookmark these stat).
So when we got home on New Year’s Day, about 12 hours shy from culminating our no-holds-barred holiday diet with a midnight snack of the very best homemade loaded vegan nachos I have ever had, my first stop was the grocery store, where I shoved everything green into the cart, including recipes for two Very Important Soups.
I have a massive crush on the magical Heidi Swanson, whose kitchen I would like to make my home, and whose best friend I may or may not fantasize about being. Everything I make from her exceedingly thoughtful food and recipe blog 101 Cookbooks instantly becomes my favorite thing I’ve ever made. She is not paying me to say any of this.
She posted the recipe for her Ten Ingredient Alkalizing Green Soup just in time for my big shopping trip, and it is a wonder. Like a green juice with sustenance, and indicative of everything I know to be true of Heidi’s food: nourishing, intentional, a celebration of whole foods, and a union of flavors that may seem quiet, but always tastes profound.
You can find her recipe in the link above, but here are a few notes about what I did:
—I made the split peas the night before and kept them in the fridge (1 cup dried green split peas to 1.5 cups water. Add split peas to boiling water and bring to a simmer until the water is fully absorbed or the peas are tender). Heidi’s original headnote suggests adding the split peas after you’ve pureed the soup for a chunkier version, but I pureed the peas with the rest of the ingredients and then added the leftovers to the finished soup for double the green pea action.
—I used dark brown rice miso because that’s what I had on hand. Use whatever you’ve got lurking in your fridge.
—I substituted a high-quality coconut yogurt for the coconut cream. I would not recommend doing this with a more processed coconut yogurt product, as they tend to be kind of gummy and that's just sad. If you live in the New York City area, Anita’s is sensational. Cashew cream would also work beautifully.
—I garnished my bowl with pea shoots, a blend of toasted nuts and seeds, and the coconut yogurt. I also drizzled it with a bit of honey my budding beekeeper of a father recently harvested. I’ve never drizzled a soup with a sweetener before, but I have to say, it was lovely and I will be giving leftovers the same treatment.
—Update: on night two, I did all the above and topped it with cubes of tofu roasted in olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. While it was heating up, I also tossed in a small container of leftover cooked brown rice, chickpeas, and sauteed kale. It was divine. (Also, tofu is a lovely plant-based source of vitamin D, which is especially important during the winter months as we have decreased exposure to the sun.)
What’s your favorite soup? How do you use the kitchen to recharge and reset? Let me know in the comments (and feel free to share links to your favorite recipes!)