Four tall soup pots and a skillet gave Christina’s stovetop a good workout. It was our annual soup making day for the fifth annual Cooking With Friends Club “Souper Bowl” for the Human Needs Food Pantry. Shy two sous chefs this year (who we welcomed with open arms for lunch by the way), there were three of us: myself, my die-hard friend Christina and our hard-working friend Sybil.
We were on a mission to make three very big batch items — a beef and vegetable chili, carrot soup and a Harvest Vegetable Soup — but at the last minute, with the extra leeks and potatoes, we threw a potato leek soup as well. We peeled, we chopped, we sautéed, we talked. We worked furiously and persistently. We were determined to crank out as many delicious homemade quarts of soup as we possibly could in a three hour time span. Poor Sybil got the job of peeling ten pounds of carrots, which she assured us was a much needed mindless activity which she actually enjoyed. Let’s hope she’s telling us the truth and will be back to join the fun the next year. I did a lot of potato peeling and onion cutting while Christina focused on prepping the ingredients needed for her butternut squash based soup.
We worked together, each with our own jobs yet if needed, always there to jump in and help one another. We cooked with the solid purpose of providing a food challenged family with something homemade and delicious to enjoy while watching the Giants play in the Super Bowl. Envisioning a family similar to our own, enjoying a cup of chili or a bowl of soup in front of the football game, was incentive enough to keep the fingers and hands moving.
39 quarts later — we’ll call it 40 since we shared a small bit of each with our friend Lou — our mission was accomplished. Our freezers will remain stuffed until Tuesday morning when we’ll bring our soups to the “Souper Bowl.” We split the cost among the three of us –$37 each (that’s $111) almost $3 per quart. As always, we concluded that this was an enjoyable and affordable way to do something good for others. A gift of something homemade, especially made with friends, is a beautiful way to give.
A giant thank you to those of you who are cooking for the “Souper Bowl.” The drop off dates are this Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 — 12:30 at the Food Pantry, 9 Label Street in Montclair, NJ. There’s still time to participate in this much appreciated event.
Here’s a creamy and delicious soup that my daughter raved about. I have to confess, a whirl in my Vitamix blender took it to a decadent level. If you don’t have one of these incredible blenders just keep the engine on yours running until it’s a smooth as you can get it.
Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup with Basil Aioli
Makes 3 1/2 quarts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
1 medium onion, diced
2 small red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium sized Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
6 cups peeled and chopped organic carrots
2 quarts chicken (or vegetable) stock
In a stock pot, heat the olive oil and butter on a medium heat. Add the ginger and onions, cooking for about five minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil and cook until the carrots and tender for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool until ready to blend. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth and silky.
To make the quick basil oil, wash and remove stems on 1 cup fresh basil leaves and blend on a high power with ½ cup olive oil. Place in a sandwich bag, cut of the end and drizzle on the soup before serving.