CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the mercury plummets, there are few things more comforting than soup. A fireplace is nice, but it doesn't quite warm you to the core the way soup does.
Then there is soup making. Naturally delicious, from scratch, made with love. Homemade soup. Break out the soup pot and fill your kitchen with the aroma of onions sautéing in a splash of olive oil. Turn on some music. Recruit some helpers.
Soup making is a perfect time to socialize. Most recipes don't rely on precise measurements, and gathering your group in the kitchen is a wonderful way to reconnect after a busy day.
A most treasured soup is chill-chasing carrot ginger. Sunshine in a bowl. Kids can scrub and peel the carrots. Then you cut them in half lengthwise, turn them flat and thinly slice them. Add them to the onions that have produced delicious curls of steam and are now just turning golden. Add some garlic and ginger and stir. Something incredible is underway.
Your kitchen, the heart of your home, has now become the gathering place. "When will it be ready?"
Add some broth to this fragrant union and you're one step away from liquid gold. Once the carrots are soft, purée the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Better yet, use an immersion blender right in the pot.
It is nearly guaranteed that this soup-making ritual has already begun its therapeutic magic. Then you taste. Wow. Serve. Spread the sunshine, share the love.
If you want to be truly amazing, make a huge batch and let it cool. Divide it into quart-size Mason jars. Add a pretty ribbon and a great loaf of bread and you have delicious, healthy, homemade holiday gifts for the very special people on your list. No crowded malls, no parking drama.
And tonight you have a comforting meal with your family and the climate outside is long forgotten.
Tried-and-true tips for soup-making success: