on nourishing yourself + lemony parsnip and white bean soup

lemony parsnip and white beans soup on millys-kitchen.com

Hello, beautiful people!

I’m back home in Seattle after our trip to Paris and Brussels and feeling super excited for the new year! I always forget how much good it does me to step out of my day-to-day routine and how travel energizes me like nothing else. There was a piece of me that didn't want to leave town before our trip. I could imagine nothing better than spending the holidays catching up on sleep and work. What the eff was I thinking?!? 

lemony parsnip and white beans soup on millys-kitchen.com
lemony parsnip and white beans soup on millys-kitchen.com
lemony parsnip and white beans soup on millys-kitchen.com

This trip was one of the best ever. I feel like I might say that after every trip, but somehow it’s always true. I walked all over the city. I ate amazing food. I got enough sleep for the first time in ages. I connected with some awesome people doing very cool things. I am starting 2017 feeling full of creativity and inspired to bring new projects to life! (Want to come with me to Paris next time? Click here.)

The benefits of our trip have carried over into my routine back in Seattle as well. December was pretty disastrous in the self-care department. But since I’ve been home, I’ve been eating better, going to sleep at a reasonable hour and exercising again. All of which makes me realize how important nourishing myself physically and emotionally is for creativity. 

lemony parsnip and white beans soup on millys-kitchen.com

Before I dragged my ass onto our flight to Paris, I was interested in precisely nothing. I was feeling seriously burnt out and uninspired. Photography: don’t care. Writing: nope. Cooking: hardly. I had slid into old habits of pushing myself to the edge of my mental and physical limits with work, shitty food and a sleep deficit no amount of coffee could compensate for. 

Now that I’m home and feeling excited to create again, I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself (and maybe to you, too) that when we stop taking care of ourselves, everything else falls out of whack.

lemony parsnip and white beans soup on millys-kitchen.com

In 2017, I aim to nourish myself with good food, sleep, connection and travel. One way I keep myself eating well is to fix a big pot of soup for the week. This Lemony Parsnip and White Bean Soup is one of my favorites. It’s got all the good stuff: kale, beans, garlic, olive oil. Simple, hearty and comforting, it’s perfect for staving off the winter blues or a nasty cold. As part of my intention to stay healthier, happier and saner in 2017, I’ll be cooking up a pot (or two or three) of this warming soup in the new year.



P.S. I’d love to hear back in the comments how you’ll be taking care of yourself in 2017. And for those of you looking to spark your creativity through a retreat in Paris next year, click here!

Lemony Parsnip and White Bean Soup

  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional to serve
  • 1 medium leek, halved lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch rounds
  • 4 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or bean cooking liquid (if you cooked your own beans)
  • 1 bunch kale (I like lacinato), stems removed and torn into 2-inch pieces
  • A nice hunk of parmesan rind (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked white beans (preferably homemade)
  • Grated parmesan (optional), to serve

*Notes: You can leave out the parmesan for a vegan soup. 

- When I have time, I like to cook this soup a little longer to let the lemon peels soften and then serve the soup with the peels left in. When cooked long enough, they're almost like preserved lemons.

- For a heartier meal, I sometimes serve this soup with pasta in it. I like conchighlie, trofie, gemeli and orecchiete in particular, but any bite-sized pasta will do. In order to keep the pasta from getting soggy in the soup, I always cook it separately until al dente, then place it in the individual bowls and top it with hot soup just before serving. I think this soup would also be lovely served with a grain like farro or barley.

- For a non-vegetarian version, shredding some cooked chicken into the soup is delicious.

lemony parsnip and white beans soup on millys-kitchen.com

Use a peeler to cut 4 1-inch-wide by 3-inch-long strips of zest from the lemon. Once the zest is removed, juice the lemon. Set the juice and zest aside.

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek, garlic and a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leek is translucent and soft, but not browned, 5-8 minutes. Add the carrots, parsnips, bay and lemon zest and saute for another 4-5 minutes, until the parsnips begin to soften.

Add the stock, kale, parmesan rind and beans to the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook gently until the kale and parsnips are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice to taste and season the soup with salt and pepper. Cook for a few more minutes to allow the flavors to come together.

To serve, remove the parmesan rind, strips of lemon zest and bay leaf from the pot. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the soup and sprinkle with parmesan (if using) and some more black pepper. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.

Inspired by this recipe by Heather over at Flourishing Foodie.

kale and citrus salad with vanilla bean vinaigrette

kale and citrus salad with vanilla bean vinaigrette on millys-kitchen.com
kale and citrus salad with vanilla bean vinaigrette on millys-kitchen.com

As usual, I’m late to the party. 

Because we are well into citrus season, and because you don't live under a rock, you probably know that citrus this year is amazing. 

I, on the other hand, had somehow managed to make it to the middle of February without eating one single orange or grapefruit or pomelo. Which is why I was unaware that we are in the middle of a perfect storm of citrus deliciousness. 

kale and citrus salad with vanilla bean vinaigrette on millys-kitchen.com

I did a little online sleuthing and discovered that last year’s drought, combined with unusually cold weather and rain (finally!) in southern California have resulted in one of the juiciest, most flavorful citrus crops in years. Now I’m on a mission to consume as much citrus as possible before the season ends. I highly recommend you join me.

Peel-and-eat is never a bad strategy. But if you need fresh inspiration for what to do with all that excellent citrus, let me introduce you to one of my favorite winter salads:

kale and citrus salad with vanilla bean vinaigrette on millys-kitchen.com

In true So Cal style, it’s got a variety of jewel-toned oranges, sweet medjool dates and a handful of spicy pepitas for crunch. The kale is sturdy enough for all those big flavors. The vanilla and shallot vinaigrette adds both earthiness and zing. 

I made this for lunch today and decided it’s the perfect salad for jazzing up a grey winter day. Healthy. Bright. And full of bold flavors. 

kale and citrus salad with vanilla bean vinaigrette on millys-kitchen.com

I for one will be making this salad many more times before winter's over. And hoarding as much citrus as I can manage.

kale and citrus salad with vanilla bean vinaigrette on millys-kitchen.com

Kale and Citrus Salad with Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

  • 1 bunch young kale (I like Lacinato kale), stems removed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • Fine sea salt
  • 4 oranges (I used a mix of blood oranges, cara caras and heirloom navel oranges)
  • 4 large, fresh medjool dates, pitted, halved and sliced crosswise into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup spiced pepitas (see below)
  • 1 recipe vanilla bean vinaigrette (see below)

For vinaigrette:

  • 1 vanilla bean

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot (from 1 small shallot)

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • Pinch fine sea salt

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil


For spiced pepitas:

  • ½ cup raw hulled pepitas

  • ¼ teaspoon olive oil

  • ¼ teaspoon toasted and ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • Pinch cayenne

  • Pinch fine sea salt


*Note: By the time I finished shooting this salad, I was super hungry and decided it needed a little more substance. I tossed in some leftover roasted chicken and it was transformed into filling lunch. A little leftover roasted salmon would work, too.

kale and citrus salad with vanilla bean vinaigrette on millys-kitchen.com

Place the torn kale in a large bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Rub the salt into the kale leaves (this helps tenderize the greens) and set aside while you make the vinaigrette.  

Using a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and place them in a medium bowl with the sugar, shallot, sherry vinegar, lemon juice and salt. Add the oil in a thin stream while whisking. Set aside for at least 10 minutes to allow the shallot to mellow and the flavors to come together.

Place the pepitas in a medium skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until they begin to turn golden brown, pop and smell nutty. Immediately transfer the hot pepitas to a small bowl and add the olive oil, cumin, honey and salt. Stir to coat evenly. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set the seasoned pepitas aside to cool.

Slice the peel and pith from the citrus and cut them into rounds about ¼-inch thick. Place them in a small bowl and spoon a bit of the vinaigrette over them. Dress the kale with the vinaigrette to taste. Set the greens and citrus aside for another 10 minutes or so to allow the vinaigrette to work its magic.

kale and citrus salad with vanilla bean vinaigrette on millys-kitchen.com

To assemble the salad, add the citrus (along with any juice at the bottom of the bowl) to the kale. Add half the pepitas and half of the sliced dates. Toss gently to combine. Place the salad on a serving platter or individual plates and top with the remaining dates and pepitas. 

The dressed kale and citrus will hold for a day in the fridge (don’t add the pepitas or they’ll get soggy). The vinaigrette will hold for 3-4 days, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.

Makes 4 servings.

swiss chard and winter squash salad with pomegranate vinaigrette

swiss chard and squash salad // millys-kitchen.com
swiss chard and squash salad // millys-kitchen.com

I’m a little later getting this post up than I’d hoped. This is mainly because I was in a foul mood when I returned to Seattle from my trip to Portugal, Brussels and Paris. 

Monday was especially rough. I woke to a gunmetal sky and crushing rain. The idea of returning to the daily mundanities of doing dishes, answering email and paying bills left me huddled beneath the covers, imagining myself back to the limestone streets of Lisbon. Eventually, I managed to roll out of bed, dress and get on with the business of day-to-day life. 

home // millys-kitchen.com

Somewhere in the middle of this stormy week, a small shift took hold. I unpacked my suitcases and fell into the familiar rhythms of cooking breakfast, doing laundry, watering plants. I snuggled my cat and brewed pots of tea. I settled into being Home.

home // millys-kitchen.com

When I was finally ready to sit down and write this post, it occurred to me that those little rituals of home are what cured me of my post-travel blues. And none more so than the pleasure of being back in my own kitchen, cooking for loved ones.

home // millys-kitchen.com
home // millys-kitchen.com

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And while I’m not a huge fan of all the holiday pomp, I am ever in favor of cooking for those you love. I made this salad for Beau and I this week and realized that it would be right at home on the holiday table. Any leftover salad is wonderful with pieces of roast chicken (or turkey) tossed in. And I have a hunch that a few spoonfuls of cranberry sauce would play right along with the sweet squash and toasty pine nuts. 

swiss chard and squash salad // millys-kitchen.com
swiss chard and squash salad // millys-kitchen.com

I’m finally feeling happy to be home. I’m looking forward to the traditions that make the holidays bright. And, more than ever, I’m appreciating the little rituals that connect our days. For me, one of those rituals is sharing my travels and photos and recipes with you. So thank you for being here, part of the home it feels so good to return to!

Swiss Chard and Winter Squash Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

  • 2 lbs. delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch thick half moons
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for roasting the squash
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 small shallot, minced (should yield 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly torn if large
  • 3 tablespoons mint leaves, roughly torn if large
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
swiss chard and squash salad // millys-kitchen.com

* Notes: I like the way the delicata looks in this salad and the fact that you don’t have to peel it , but any winter squash will work here. If you’re using a different squash, I recommend cutting it into 3/4 cubes (for a squash like butternut) or 1/2 inch slices (for a squash like acorn). Cook time will vary depending on the squash and how thickly you’ve cut it, but should range from 20-35 minutes.

- For this salad, I look for Swiss chard with white stems. The ones with red and orange stems have a mineral beet flavor that I don't like as well in this recipe.

- I use lacinato kale in raw salads because I think it's the most tender. 

swiss chard and squash salad // millys-kitchen.com

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the squash on the sheet pan and toss with olive oil to lightly coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast, turning squash after 10 minutes, until light golden-brown and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes total. When the squash is done roasting, set it aside to cool.

While the squash is cooking, make the vinaigrette. In a medium bowl, combine the shallot, red wine vinegar, pomegranate molasses, a generous pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper. If you have time, let this sit for 10-15 minutes to mellow the shallot. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.

swiss chard and squash salad // millys-kitchen.com

To assemble, place the Swiss chard and kale in a large bowl. Add the mint, parsley, 2/3 of the cooled squash and half the pine nuts to the bowl with the greens. Lightly dress the salad with the vinaigrette. Taste and add a bit more dressing if necessary. Arrange the salad on a serving platter and top with the rest of the squash and pine nuts. Crumble the feta over the top and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

home // millys-kitchen.com