You can take a girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. And I am really out of the country living in a loft in Kansas City’s Crossroads district, but I love it here. Thomas is still involved with a ranch we have in Linn County, Kansas, so I still get to see the horses and get a taste of the country.
Being raised by my grandparents in Nebraska, I watched how my grandmother would can and preserve foods. So when our children were growing up we had a garden and raised our own chickens in Olathe. Now our son, Michael, lives in that home, which for the past nearly 20 years has been the place we’ve held our annual soup supper.
Your soup supper is a famed foodie event. The supper began as a small gathering but has grown into a delightful evening in November, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, with about 70 people attending last year. It has evolved into this event where people collect recipes all year long so they can bring amazing soups and dishes to share.
Michael is a wonderful cook, and more of the soup-making responsibilities fall on him for this eclectic, intergenerational gathering of people. We serve nearly 20 varieties of soup, where, of course, this vegetable soup is a standard.
This supper is like a human representation of the alchemy of soup. It’s wonderful to see how all these different people can come together into a delicious gathering, not unlike how different ingredients come together to make a wonderful soup.
You are also a musician by profession. Are there similarities between making meals and music? Well, besides many layers coming together to make something magical at the end, I think the key to enjoying music and cooking is to have fun.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, so while I enjoy the different instruments and ingredients that go into creating the production, you have to be ready to take a chance and not be afraid to fail. My grandmother helped give me confidence in the kitchen and I suppose in life, too.
All of my children are fun, creative cooks, too, because there was always a place for them in the kitchen, and they grew up around food.
We are heading into the bounty of the harvest season, and there’s really no better time for soup. To me, soups aren’t just a cold-weather food.
I don’t have a garden at my loft, but there are so many wonderful farmers markets in the Crossroads and around the city. This soup really is best when you can use in-season produce and aren’t afraid to improvise with ingredients and roast other vegetables. There’s another level of flavor that’s added to this soup through the roasting process, and the goodness comes from pouring all those golden vegetables into the broth.
Making connections — whether it’s with your family, your friends, your local farmer, your food — is what life is about. And frankly, when that happens, it warms my heart.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Send email to her at email@example.com to nominate a cook.
Residence: Kansas City
Occupation: Professional choral accompanist and Cabi fashion consultant. Retired in 2005 as a middle school music teacher.
Family: Married to Thomas for 43 years with three children and two grandchildren.
Special cooking interest: Soup (and sous) “chef”
Roasted Vegetable Soup
Makes 6 (11/2 cup) servings
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dried ground rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups sliced zucchini
2 sweet onions, halved and coarsely chopped
1 pound whole button mushrooms, cleaned
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into 1-inch chunks
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper together. Set aside.
Into a large glass bowl stir zucchini, onions, mushrooms, garlic and peppers together. Pour oil mixture over all and stir to coat.
Pour vegetables onto a large baking sheet in a single layer and roast in oven for 15 minutes. Carefully turn vegetables for even roasting and bake another 15 minutes or until vegetables are golden brown on both sides. Remove from oven.
While vegetables are roasting, in a large soup pot warm chicken stock, heavy whipping cream and parsley over a medium heat until liquid just reaches a simmer. Add roasted vegetables and turn to a low heat. Use a stick blender to make a creamier soup. Serve hot.
Per serving: 381 calories (70 percent from fat), 33 grams total fat (15 grams saturated), 82 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 415 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.