Keeping the cruellest month at bay 

You can't screw up with homemade soup

click to enlarge Coconut Sweet Potato Soup  with cilantro
  • Coconut Sweet Potato Soup with cilantro

April is the cruellest month, wrote T. S. Eliot.

But I say February is the year's Cruella de Vil, mean as hell as it teases us with glimpses of spring — a bit of warmth and brightness here, a green shoot or pink bud there — then douses high hopes with a bucketful of winter right in the face. Splat!

After one particularly cold, miserable ramble with our faithful, four-legged furry friend, all I wanted was soup. A bowl of delicious hot soup, not something from a can that delivers 25 to 35 per cent — or more — of your daily sodium in a single dose and, unless marked otherwise, is lined with plastics containing the known carcinogen, BPA (outlawed from plastic water bottles but still ubiquitous in the lining of canned goods).

Homemade soup was the only thing that would do. Lucky for us we had in the freezer a container of something I'd whipped up from odds and sods we'd had on hand. But it was based on one of my favourite recipes from my mom.

There are so many nice things about soup. Eternally warming and comforting — check. Easy to make and versatile (enjoy it on its own, or with a salad and good bread you have dinner) — check. And double check here — homemade soup is cheap (hey, half of it's water) and super practical because you can pretty much whip up a batch from whatever you have around. In fact, making soup, or just about anything in the kitchen is even more fun if you ad lib.

Whistler Recipes, from Whistler Museum & Archives, has a great collection of soup recipes: Florence Petersen's pumpkin soup with a touch of curry, perfect for using up fresh pumpkin or squash. Caroline Cluer's leek and potato soup. And one soup is made with Jerusalem artichokes, also called sunchokes — those wicked looking root-y things they grow at North Arm Farm that you never know what to do with.

Most of these recipes are tried and true classics. Once you get the hang of them, you can easily branch out.

But I also wanted to see what our young hip "cooksters" were up to in the soup department, so I rang up The Bird's Nest, one of Vancouver's better secrets, a pop-up eatery run by "Chef Marika".

Daughter of long-time Whistlerites, Joan and Marcel Richoz, Marika was in the kitchen with her mom from the time she could walk.

Simply by watching, observing, and experimenting over the years she's become a super-cook, like her mom, hosting guests for amazing multi-course meals made from scratch.

Below is a delicious homemade soup recipe of her own creation based on a sauce Marika originally made for halibut, proving you don't have to stick to soup recipes for inspiration.

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