Cookbook author and cancer survivor finds soup is a balm

A woman holds a cup of soup and smiles.
Caroline Wright was so touched by offerings of soup when she was fighting a brain tumor that she’s become a soup lady. It inspired her most recent cookbook, “Soup Club,” which features all plant-based soups.
Courtesy of Caroline Wright

As a young mother and budding cookbook author, Caroline Wright was told she had a brain tumor the size of a clementine and, thus, had a year left to live. 

Grief-stricken, Wright started to journal her worries and determination on Eagan, Minn.-based Caring Bridge.

A community developed online, and after she casually wrote about craving homemade soup, jars of soup started appearing on her family’s doorstep and continued showing up for months.

Wright’s cancer is wonderfully in remission right now, and she is living a full life – and proclaiming the message of soup. Her newest cookbook is “Soup Club,” and she’s in the Twin Cities this week promoting it — including a soup-making event at Cooks of Crocus Hill Wednesday night. She also had a recipe to share with listeners of Minnesota Now.

Tomato and quinoa soup

A bowl of tomato and quinoa soup.
Caroline Wright, author of the new cookbook “Soup Club,” shared a recipe for tomato and quinoa soup on Minnesota Now.
Courtesy of Caroline Wright

Makes about 12 bowlfuls (or 3 quarts)

  • 1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges with root end intact

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves 

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried

  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed if desired

  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar, plus more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar, plus more to taste

  1. Heat broiler with rack about 5 inches away from heat. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss onion, garlic, carrots and thyme with 2 tablespoons oil; season generously with salt and pepper (about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). Broil vegetables, tossing every 2 minutes, until golden brown in spots and tender when pierced (about 10 minutes). Transfer vegetables to a blender jar with 1 cup water; blend, cracking lid and covering with a towel to release steam, until smooth.

  2. In a large, heavy pot, heat remaining oil over medium heat until hot. Carefully stir in tomato paste (it will spatter); cook, stirring, until the oil and paste are brick red (about 3 minutes). Stir in vegetable purée, scraping bottom and sides of pot with wooden spoon to release any caramelized tomato. Stir in bay leaves, both diced and crushed tomatoes, quinoa, and 4 cups (1 quart) water. Simmer soup, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until thickened and quinoa is cooked (about 30 minutes). Stir in agave and vinegar. Season soup with additional salt, agave, and vinegar to taste.

Recipe excerpted from “Soup Club” by Caroline Wright (Andrews McMeel 2021) with permission from Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Use the audio player above to listen to their conversation.

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