Friday, January 8, 2016

Soup And Solitude

Throughout the New England winter, I return to this soup time and time again. I wash away the world and rush back to sweet solitude. A cold walk on a clear beach and a hot bowl of soup restores my peace. Maybe it's because I work part-time in a crisis center or because I'm an introvert or because I was a bit of a wild-child in my youth; whatever the reason, I need to be alone for long stretches of time. My mom used to call it my hibernation-mode.

Solitude is not something you hope for in the future, rather it's a deepening of the present. Unless you look for solitude in the present, you'll never find it. ~ Thomas Merton.

In my twenties, I worked at a hospital with a stable and sweet psychiatric nurse who gave me a birthday card that read, "Happiness is one way of being wise." She sensed I needed to know that. Years later, I read that the true revenge of our enemies, and our darkest demons, is to be deeply happy. As a twenty-something, I lived in Philadelphia. I would go out clubbing all night. Do people even do that anymore? I loved to dance. But it wasn't a particularly happy or mellow time. I was restless and roaming. I was searching for something more meaningful. I'm grateful for those early experiences and the many mistakes I made. I still love cities and urban music. But my life has evolved into something less chaotic and more fulfilling. I used to seek happiness in people, in possessions and in the wrong places. Now I know better. Now those old messages about happiness make sense to me.

Happiness is a beach sunset with windswept clouds. God is there.  At dusk, the harbor horizon has white-steepled churches and warmly-lit cottages. From the pier, the barren trees look beautiful against the setting sun. I am at peace. When I come home from trekking around with my husband and beagle, a hot bowl of soup is just the thing to warm us up. From pho to fresh pea soup with coconut milk and lime, We slurp bowls of soup almost every day of the year.

I recently read this blog post that listed 65 ways people survived the great depression. They cooked soups with a mix of whatever vegetables they happened to have on hand or grow in their garden. Some said it was the best soup they had ever eaten.

This pot of detoxifying soup is what's on the menu today. Whether you're a college student on a budget, an overworked single mom, or you're recovering from the holiday-splurge, you can easily prepare this soup and feel good about feeding yourself and your family.

A mix of inexpensive root vegetables and beans make it similar to the kind of soup that may have been served back when times were very lean. It also happens to be delicious and full of vegetarian protein. There's something about this soup that I adore. I love rutabagas. Do you?  I might be alone in my devotion to them. Fresh dill is a must here. It brings brightness to the bowl. The soup is easy to fix; chop and drop cooking. Sometimes I swap the rutabagas for cabbage. A pop of green peas is great here too. Color is important. It elevates our mood, especially in winter. The soup is hearty enough to serve for dinner with a crusty piece of bread and a sprinkling of grated cheese on top. It's good with biscuits too. It reheats well. It'll fill hungry tummies on a tight budget. This wholesome recipe is packed with fiber and vitamins. Healthy eating is economical when you use seasonal ingredients.    

Tom jokes that we eat like monastery monks sometimes. Our lunches are usually a simple vegetable soup, a bit of cheese and buttered-bread. Sometimes there's nothing better than that. We all need soup and solitude. It's good for our bodies (and souls) to enjoy humble food and take long walks in nature. 

Winter Root Vegetable Soup Recipe

Makes A Large Pot Full

Some Notes:

I've made this soup with regular baking potatoes. They don't hold their shape like red bliss or yukon golds do. Red bliss or yukon gold potatoes, along with the rutabagas, make the soup creamier and hearty.  

Rapunzel No Salt Vegan Vegetable Bouillon is my go-to veggie bouillon when I don't have the time or energy to make my own stock. It's the best! I love it for its clean taste and homemade flavor.       


  • 2 smallish rutabagas, chopped (3 cups of chopped rutabaga)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped (optional)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 16 small red bliss, yukon gold or honey gold potatoes, halved or quartered depending on their size  
  • A handful of fresh dill, chopped. Basil will work too.
  • 2 15-ounce cans of beans, rinsed and drained. I use a mix of navy beans and chickpeas. Cannellini beans are good here too. 
  • 1 cup of frozen peas. I use petite peas.
  • 3-4 vegetable bouillon cubes. I use  Rapunzel No Salt Vegan Vegetable Bouillon. 
  • Salt to taste. I use sea salt.
  • 6-8 cups of water (or enough water to barely cover the vegetables and potatoes).   

Serving Suggestions: crusty bread, biscuits, crackers, grated Parmesan, swiss or cheddar cheese, more fresh dill    


Place everything in a soup pot, except for the peas and the fresh dill. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer the soup until the potatoes and vegetables are tender. Stir in the frozen peas and fresh dill. Serve with any of the above suggestions.

Bon Appetit And Blessings!
xx~ Jilly   


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