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Counter Intelligence: Homemade soup warms the whole family

By April Hamilton
April Hamilton
Put the kids to work scrubbing and peeling carrots for carrot ginger soup.

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:

  • Save your vegetable peels and trimmings and make homemade vegetable broth.
  • Start your soup with sautéed onions and build on this fragrant foundation.
  • An immersion blender is a handy tool that makes puréeing a pot of soup a breeze (the Cuisinart immersion blender is available in most stores in the kitchen section).
  • If you are packing soup for gift-giving, be sure it is completely cool before covering the containers. Keep it chilled until delivery.
  • Carrot Ginger Soup

    Makes 4 servings.

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 onion, thinly sliced

    4 large carrots, peeled and sliced (about 1 pound)

    1 garlic clove, minced

    1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

    4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade

    Salt and pepper to taste

    HEAT the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until slightly softened and just turning golden. Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for 1 minute.

    ADD 3 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat.

    SIMMER for 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

    PURÉE the soup in batches in a blender or food processor, or in the pot with an immersion blender.

    HEAT the soup, adjusting the consistency with the remaining 1 cup broth as needed, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

    April Hamilton has always said, "Cooking is fun!" She shares her easy, practical recipes for delicious food through her cooking classes for kids and families. April's husband and three daughters help with testing and tasting in their Charleston kitchen. April would love to hear from you: Email aprilskitchencounter@gmail.com.


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