If you love cookbooks and don’t know who Alana Chernila is, allow me to be the first to (very excitedly) introduce you to her work. Alana’s first book, The Homemade Pantry: 100 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making is on our list of cookbooks that every parent should own, so you can image that we eagerly await every new cookbook that she releases.
Her latest is finally here and totally worth the wait. Eating From the Ground Up: Recipes for Simple, Perfect Vegetables is exactly the cookbook we want right now. And of course Alana is the one who delivered it to us.
Right along with a fabulous pea soup recipe — don’t miss it below!
Like us, we know that a lot of you are trying to eat more veggies and are even considering going vegan, even if for just a few meals a week. If that rings true, you must grab a copy of Eating From the Ground Up immediately (this isn’t a vegan cookbook, but you know, lots of veggie inspiration). And if it doesn’t ring true, but you want it to, you know what I’m going to say: order Alana’s new book stat.
Though this book isn’t specifically written for family cooks, Alana masterfully considers the realities of family life. I suppose they are the realities of everyday home cooking for anyone, not just parents, but Alana is a parent herself and it’s clear to me that these recipes consider what it means to be a busy home cook. Yet she still somehow manages to capture the spirit of a cook who has the time and energy to wax poetic over food.
Alana’s flavors, her delicate touch, and really, her love for vegetables are inspiring. And instead of using that inspiration to make a complex recipe one time — which is so often the case with gorgeous cookbooks like this one — you can use it to make her fast, simple recipes over and over. Because this book is chock full of them.
In fact, the first chapter is called Barely Recipes and another chapter is called Too Hot To Cook.
See? I told you that Alana understands what it’s like for us busy cooks.
From mains to soups to sides and even sweets, Eating From the Ground Up offers everything from simple directions for weeknight go-to’s to recipes so mouthwatering — and easy — that I guarantee you will be experimenting with new veggies. Because not only does Alana offer tips along the way, too, but she walks you through everything in a friendly, non-judgey tone that you know is essential for our approval. Because if someone is going to try to get you to feed kohlrabi to your kids, they’d better understand that, for many of you, it’s a stretch that has to be worth the time and effort.
And Alana does. She understands deeply and has got your back. It’s why she’s one of my favorites and I think you should get this book. Then, commit to eating more veggies with Alana as your guide. The kids will follow eventually, because when vegetables are this simple to prepare and taste this good, they are too hard to resist. Even for the pickiest eaters.
The first night this recipe made its way into the world, I brought it along on a picnic with my friend Emily. I had filled little jars with the precious bright green soup and transported it in a cooler to keep it cold. “Pea soup!” Emily’s eyes got a little far away. “When I was little, my mother used to make pea soup once a year. She’d harvest all the shelling peas at once and all those pods would turn into hardly any peas at all. But she’d blend them into a soup that we’d eat out of teacups.
It was so sweet and creamy and green, and we’d lick every bit out of the cup.
Once it was gone, it was gone until the next year. There was never a bit left over.” I’ve eaten Emily’s mother’s cooking, and I worried that my soup might not live up to her memory. But I handed her a jar and spoon, and I waited. “And this,” she closed her eyes, “is what it tasted like.” This is a once-a-year soup, a soup to celebrate the very fact of the pea itself.
Pick as many peas as you can, and don’t worry when they all reduce down to a single cup. That cup is enough, and the resulting soup will be good enough to last in your memory until next year.
MAKES ABOUT 1 QUART
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup chopped onion (about ½ medium onion)
1 cup fresh peas (from about 1 pound shelling or English peas)
15 fresh mint leaves
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup heavy cream
For serving: Crème fraîche, freshly ground black pepper
1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
2. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Have ready a bowl of ice water nearby. Submerge the peas in the boiling water and cook until bright green, about 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peas to the ice water and let them cool completely. Drain the peas in a colander.
3. Combine the onions, peas, mint, stock, buttermilk, cream, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a blender. Blend until completely smooth, about 30 seconds in a high-speed blender and 90 seconds in a regular blender. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, then serve in small bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche and a grind of pepper.
You can buy a hardcover copy of Eating From the Ground Up: Recipes for Simple, Perfect Vegetables at our Amazon affiliate for $18.30 or look for it at your local indie bookstore.
Recipes and photos reprinted from Eating from the Ground Up: Recipes for Simple, Perfect Vegetables. Copyright © 2018 by Alana Chernila. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Johnny Autry. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.