On a damp, foggy late fall day there are few things more soul-warming than nestling up to a steaming bowl of homemade soup. The ritual of chopping, sautéing, stirring, and ladling engages your hands and mind. The comforting goodness that results lifts your spirits as you revel in the small accomplishment of feeding yourself and your loved ones from a communal pot. Out of nowhere, you realize the birds outside your window are singing despite the darkness and drear.
Unfortunate events in our lives can manifest themselves as emotional fog, casting gloom over what might have otherwise been a day of gracious, open-eyed life-living. When something happens to us, when another person wrongs us or hurts us or lets us down, the negative energy can permeate our very fibers. It takes courage and will to rise above the fog, to let the sun burn the clouds away and see the world as it really is: miraculous. And we can’t always do that on our own.
I am one of many students at my university that has recently been wronged: we’ve had money and personal belongings stolen from us, unexpectedly and in the midst of impending exams and holidays – a time when we could all use a big hug rather than a metaphorical punch in the gut. These acts hurt and enrage us and make us feel helpless. This experience made me less apt to trust others and weakened my faith in the unspoken bonds I share with all the hard-working, diverse women that surround me in our beautiful little school.
But then there are the people that burn away the fog, that fortify our belief in humanity, that help shift our outlook back to optimism and love. Thank you to you. You are my sun today. I am writing this because you changed my thought patterns, something I could not have done alone. This soup is for you, too.
Soul-Warming Leek and White Bean Soup with Cardamom
2 Tbsp. butter
1 very large or 2-3 medium leeks, white parts only, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
¼ tsp cardamom
4 medium carrots, sliced into ¼” thick coins
1 large potato, any variety, diced into ½” chunks
6 cups stock of choice (or as I did, 4 cups vegetable stock + 2 cups water)
1 29-oz can white (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
~6 leaves dinosaur kale, coarsely torn
freshly cracked black pepper and salt to taste
olive oil for serving
1. In a 4-quart or larger pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until just softened, but not brown. Add garlic and cardamom and sauté a minute more.
2. To the pot o’ alliums (leeks and garlic), add carrot coins and potato chunks. Pour in your stock and turn heat to medium-high, bringing liquid to a boil then reducing to a simmer. Add white beans, rosemary sprig and Parmesan rind, if using.
3. Continue simmering soup until carrots and potatoes tender, adding more liquid as needed for desired consistency.
4. Turn heat to low. Stir torn kale leaves into soup and cover, cooking just until kale is bright green, about 3 minutes.
5. Remove soup from heat; allow it to cool slightly. Puree soup with standard or immersion blender until your preferred texture is reached. I liked it mostly smooth, allowing just a few hearty chunks of potato and flecks of kale to prevail.
6. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil plus salt and pepper to the soup-eater’s liking.
7. Let the steam from your bowl rise up and give you a mini-facial; listen for birds.