Darwin frowns, hunkered over a mug of creamy, golden soup. He sounds really disappointed, I think. It's actually hard to tell, because his voice sounds like a Brillo pad on a soup pot. My poor sweet pea is sick with a cold in the middle of May.
Like many moms and dads, I feel propelled to action when my kid is under the weather. I snuggle his ever-lankier frame. I plan movies and homemade popsicles. I kneel on the kitchen floor and whack a Thai coconut with the corner of my chef's knife, so I can offer him a cold glass of its water. Look out, virus. I've got a knife.
This particular cold got Darwin by the throat, and I wanted to make something soothing-to-swallow that would fill him up with a good variety of vegetables: a rich soup brimming with nourishing, gently-simmered kale, celery, carrots, and onions. It's so simple, yet surprisingly layered and tasty. Imagine the comfort of a potato soup, but a little lighter, more intricate, more vibrant. I call it Healing Veggie Soup.
And here's Darwin, four years old, a little pale and slouching in front of his mug, believing that our soup is actually a kind of elixir with the power to banish his cold. "Mama," he says again, "my soup is not healing me," the sadness in his scratchy voice suddenly so big. And what can I tell him?
"But it gives your body the strength to heal itself," I say.
What I don't say: "But it heals me to make it for you."
Healing Veggie Soup
1 small sweet onion
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 russet potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups packed kale
1/4 cup cream (half and half)
1/2 tsp. salt and black pepper to taste
chopped parsley, for garnish
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, saute onion, carrot, and celery in a few Tbls. of EVOO until the vegetables are glistening and soft, about ten minutes.
Add the kale and potatoes, and saute a few minutes more, stirring frequently, until the kale has begun to wilt.
Add two cups of water, salt, and pepper. Let the soup simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender.
Remove the soup from the heat, and puree with an immersion blender (if you like some texture) or blender/food processor in batches (for a completely smooth soup.)
Whisk in cream to soup after blending and ladle into bowls with a sprinkle of parsley.
Baby sister loved it.