My Most Popular Soup Recipe Was Also My Most Disliked—Until Now

Once upon a time, I wrote a weekly column here, a project called “Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals.” It was a catchy idea in support of my first cookbook that inspired me to consider whole food grocery products—cans of beans, cartons of stock, jars o…

Once upon a time, I wrote a weekly column here, a project called “Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals.” It was a catchy idea in support of my first cookbook that inspired me to consider whole food grocery products—cans of beans, cartons of stock, jars of sauce—as shortcuts to flavor and cooking time. The column stretched my imagination of where real food can come from, like an enormous feature in a magazine I had grown accustomed to writing. Since then, my projects since have been more personal and focused on storytelling, but creativity and good home cooking remain at the center of all I do.

Now, eight years later, I am known as “Soup Lady” first and “Caroline” second among some of my friends, which is an accurate depiction of my identity, if you ask my husband. I have fallen into a life where I make an absolutely ridiculous amount of soup every week for nine months of every year—the rainy months in Seattle, referred to as “soup season” in my house, where “souping” is also a verb—for the past three years. (As you read this, I’ve just started my fourth.) I don’t want to digress too much, but suffice it to say that this soup-obsessed life found me and my ties to it are profound and emotional. I am not exaggerating when I say I believe it saved my life.

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How Soup Saved My Life—Twice

The part about surviving a terminal illness that no one talks about is that it’s almost as scary as being diagnosed in the first place. I survived the year I was given, only to encounter medical bills and a chorus of voices that seemed to question if I…

The part about surviving a terminal illness that no one talks about is that it’s almost as scary as being diagnosed in the first place. I survived the year I was given, only to encounter medical bills and a chorus of voices that seemed to question if I could meet a deadline, which is a grim fate for a cookbook author. A mist of pity hung in the air, its storm vanished but evident still. And I was the same through it all, having done nothing but breathed in and out every day, just in different rooms and being told different things about my body.

There is no such thing as “back to normal,” which is a phrase that I heard a lot then. I had bartered all of my favorite foods—my career, even—for more time with my two young sons. I became resolved about eating healthfully and listening to my body. I was the only cancer patient my doctors and nurses had seen who actually grew healthier and stronger during treatment. It was a miracle year, as many outsiders told me.

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The Chocolate Chip Cookies I Can’t Eat Anymore, but Will Never Stop Making

I bake to feel like myself, especially when the outside world feels upside down.

In 2009, I was laid off from my first food media job out of culinary school. It had always been my dream to be a food editor, and I was crushed. Just after the cloud of s…

I bake to feel like myself, especially when the outside world feels upside down.

In 2009, I was laid off from my first food media job out of culinary school. It had always been my dream to be a food editor, and I was crushed. Just after the cloud of self-pity lifted and the objects from my desk had been absorbed into my apartment with the disguise of belonging, I retreated to the kitchen with a new goal: to make the ideal chocolate chip cookie.

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The Walnut Vinaigrette That Made My Kids Fall in Love With Broccoli

My favorite recipes are those where most of the dish is obvious, or maybe universally considered to be delicious, but one bit of the picture is slightly askew. I have built a career on this perspective and it is second nature to me now. In my personal …

My favorite recipes are those where most of the dish is obvious, or maybe universally considered to be delicious, but one bit of the picture is slightly askew. I have built a career on this perspective and it is second nature to me now. In my personal life at home, too, I think it keeps cooking fresh and interesting, but also inspiring and approachable. Especially when you have kids.

Case in point: this grilled broccolini salad with basil-walnut vinaigrette.

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What I’d Tell My Younger Self If I Could

It’s funny to me how certain trends catch on like wildfire in schools. I see it in the stories my son Henry brings home from school, where he learns what’s cool by watching the other kids.

So far, his lessons in assimilation have been innocuous: Some …

It’s funny to me how certain trends catch on like wildfire in schools. I see it in the stories my son Henry brings home from school, where he learns what’s cool by watching the other kids.

So far, his lessons in assimilation have been innocuous: Some days he slips on a new behavior like a borrowed shirt, only to toss it aside when he feels it doesn’t quite fit on his body. He grew his hair long this year, for instance, insisting he enjoyed the feeling of it in his eyes, only to chop it off at the start of summer. He’s become a rabid soccer fan, famous among his friends for his ability to score goals on second-graders.

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