Karen Viesta Devlin, a teacher, lives in Port Washington with her husband and two children.
Have you always been interested in cooking?
I grew up on home cooking. It was very rare that we went out to dinner or brought in takeout food. From a young age I developed an appreciation for good food and quality ingredients. Not anything fancy, but everything was flavorful with attention paid to presentation. So these are the things I came to value. I was also always interested in health and wellness. Two years ago I went through a nutrition program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, out of my own interest and passion. I gained an understanding of the science behind everything I knew and loved about food.
Tell me about your blog.
Not that long ago I stared a health an lifestyle blog, Wellegance.com It blends the idea of wellness with the idea of living elegantly, by which I mean living simply, deliberately, and making conscious choices. These are conversations that women need and want to have, and the blog is a place to open up those kinds of conversations, to talk about how to get done everything we need to get done, but also how to create a life we love.
And how is this connected to cooking?
The blog’s tagline is, “Cultivate a life of vitality, pleasure, passion and purpose.” Food is the foundational element of this. It’s hard to live with a lot of passion and purpose if you’re not feeling well. Taking care of yourself begins with food and wellness.
Where does this recipe come from?
When things are in season they’re much better for you nutritionally, so I’m always trying to look for ways to incorporate seasonal ingredients. I developed this winter vegetable soup the way I develop all my recipes. I looked at a bunch of recipes, pulled elements from one or another, added spices and seasonings that I like. I’m like a mad scientist in the kitchen.
Any tips for success?
It’s so simple, you really almost can’t do it wrong. It can be tailored to your taste. You can substitute thyme for dill. Or skip the garlic. Soups are very forgiving. Use what’s freshest and adjust the herbs and spices to your taste and you’ll be happy.
How do you serve this?
I will often eat this with a small salad for lunch. Or I’ll have it as a starter for dinner. It kind of works both ways. And if I’m hosting a party and I want to put out soup, instead of doing it as a sit-down course I will put the soup in demitasse cups and put them out on a tray. People can just sip on it as an appetizer. It’s a very elegant way to serve it, and feels kind of special.
Where do you buy your vegetables?
At this time of year I favor Whole Foods and North Shore Farms because they have a big assortment of local produce. In the summer I love all the farm stands out east and the CSA programs. I love to support the Long Island farmers.
Winter Root Vegetable Soup
3 leeks (white and light green parts), sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon turmeric
6 cups water
Slice of fresh ginger (approximately 1⁄4-inch thick), peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped, plus more for garnish if desired
Juice from 1⁄2 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1. Place the leeks, carrots, celery, parsnips, potato, garlic and olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the turmeric, then cover the pot and “sweat” the vegetables over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the water and ginger to the pot. Turn the heat to medium high and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables can easily be pierced with a knife. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly (approximately 5 minutes).
3. Stir in the fresh dill. Puree the soup in batches, using a blender or food processor. Stir in the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a sprig of fresh dill if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.