You know, I’m not much for measuring stuff in the kitchen.
I’ll pause here for the audible gasp likely coming from those who know me in all other aspects of life and practice…where being, um, let’s just say, exacting sometimes edges into the weird, obsessive zone.
When I was 3, I’d wail in anguish if one of my toys—of course arranged in a perfectly straight line—fell slightly askew.
Now, at 40, I’ve been known to wake at 3 a.m., realizing: A) I need to contract or relax this or that muscle slightly differently in a particular yoga posture, B) I want to add this or that herb to a patient’s prescription in order to make a good formula an amazing one, and/or C) I absolutely must fix this or that line of wording in paragraph 4 of my latest blog post.
So, thankfully (for all parties involved—particularly those closest to me), I’m not much for measuring stuff in the kitchen.
Maybe this is because I always considered myself a lousy cook…and generally avoided kitchens until my late 30s. As a result, cooking now feels very childlike—very much like play.
But, also as a result, recipes turn out different every time (and tend to evolve over time because I very quickly stop bothering to look back at the original instructions).
Soups are a big one for this.
I love simple soups and have been craving them lots lately.
Especially super-simple veggie ones that are super-thick like puree—my version of a smoothie (but since the soup contents are cooked, they’re way easier on digestion and way higher in bioavailable nutrients).
I try to make at least one soup a week—rarely with a recipe (even rarer with actual measuring spoons).
The general instructions go this way:
1. Heat a heaping spoonful of ghee or coconut oil in a large stock pot, then add a heaping handful of chopped onions and sauté until soft and slightly golden (at least a few minutes, often 7-ish minutes or more—just don’t burn them).
Around minute 5 or so, you can throw in some finely chopped garlic and ginger too.
(If you want to get fancy, sprinkle cumin, coriander or other spices into the heated oil 30 seconds before adding the onions, garlic and ginger.)
2. While the onions, garlic and ginger are sautéing, roughly chop your featured veggies (and/or fruits) of choice. For the fennel-apple-ginger-chard soup above, this meant 2 fennel bulbs (and a bit of the stalks), a whack of green chard, and a few slices of Granny Smith apple.
3. Once the onions are soft and slightly golden, dump in the chopped veggies and/or fruits. Add a cup or so of water or simple soup stock (making sure it’s sugar-free), along with a sprinkle of any additional spices that strike your fancy. For the soup pictured, I added cumin and fresh thyme leaves.
Sometimes I’ll add a splash of coconut aminos too—but the whether and when of that is pretty random. Oh, and I generally add sea salt and cracked pepper just before eating, but you could do so during the cooking process instead.
4. Bring everything to a near-boil, then immediately reduce to very low, cover the pot, and let your creation simmer. How long depends on what’s in the pot—the idea is to have your veggies slightly soft but not total mush, and some take longer than others. I just check on them every few minutes, stirring everything around and making sure there’s enough liquid (if not, I add a little water).
5. Once cooking seems complete, (carefully) dump the contents of the pot into a blender (we use a Vitamix) and puree until your soup reaches desired consistency.
You can add more water or broth at this point if the soup isn’t thin enough for you. (I like mine so thick and clumpy, I could eat it with a fork.) Another optional addition is full-fat, organic coconut milk.
So simple. So fast. So nourishing. So open to creativity, play and variation.
Now, when Randy makes soup, he stays way closer to the rules…following recipes and wielding measuring spoons with a (messy yet sexy) fervor.
And I must admit, his soups taste pretty spectacular (especially the carrot-apple-ginger ones).
But they also require a bit more care and attention (not necessarily the best ones to make while juggling a full-blown Sunday cook-up).
Have a favorite paleo-primal soup to share? Please do so in the comments!