The Healing Powers of Home (and Soup)

February 12, 2020
February 12, 2020 AllisonM

The Healing Powers of Home (and Soup)

There’s nothing quite so homesickness-inducing than being ill when you’re away from home. You’re in a strange room, tossing and turning in a strange bed, and often without the creature comforts that make being under the weather a little bit easier — no favorite blanket, no familiar bathtub.

H. and I both got sick on Saturday, the next to last day of the Cayamo cruise. 


I got lucky. I finished my last show that morning, which was one of the most soul-filling things I’ve ever done in front of an audience — a conversation about the art of memoir with the legendary Rodney Crowell. I signed a whole lot of books directly afterwards for the kindest music fans I’ve ever been around, then I went to our cabin, got in the bed, and didn’t move for twelve or so hours. H. was not so lucky. He had one show left to do that night. By the way — how is it possible that two people get something at the exact same time? We must’ve been exposed simultaneously, which is good news because now we can’t blame it on the other. Ha! Anyway — I weakly told him to break a leg as he left for his 10:15 appearance and drifted off into a fevery, fitful sleep. I woke when he came back in, and of course, pro that he is, he made it through fine, but we both felt like zombies and stayed horizontal for at least ten more hours. It was brutal.


We sequestered ourselves for most of the last day and finally limped home on Monday. I was quietly thankful that it was cold and rainy when we landed in Nashville — perfect weather for bundling up and doing as little as possible. We shoved our suitcases and guitars in the door, and I headed out to get Willie from the pet sitter and to stop by the drugstore for supplies. When I finally got home with our sweet pup, I said a prayer of gratitude. No matter how badly I felt, I had a warm home and bed, money with which to buy medicine, a person to share it all — good and bad — with, and a sweet creature to help soothe my raggedy soul. 


Life doesn’t ever stop. And that usually means that I can’t stop, either. I woke on Tuesday thankfully feeling better and like I could carry on and I did, though my appetite was non-existent. Good thing, because groceries were as well. As I thought about what sort of nourishment we might be able to take, I remembered one of my favorite soup recipes, Cream of Tomato, from one of my favorite cookbooks, The New Basics. I’ve had it for years and return to it over and over, mostly for this soup recipe. I highly recommend the cookbook and the soup, and also getting groceries delivered when you can’t face going out. 


I don’t know if I feel like I’m on the mend because I’ve got the soup cooking on the stove right now or not, but I can say that there is nothing like having a safe and warm place to land, and something safe and warm to heal you from the inside out when you’re feeling vulnerable in any way. I need to become better at slowing down, but until I do, I’ll lean on my trusted creature comforts to help me through, just like my Mama and my Grandmother taught me to do. I can hear Nanny now — ”Try to sit up and sip some broth, honey. You need to get something on your stomach.” And with that, I’ll leave you with this fantastic recipe from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. If we can choke down a grilled cheese sandwich, we’re gonna have those on the side.


Peace and love and happy Wednesday,



Cream of Tomato Soup


4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2 cans (35 ounces each) plum tomatoes, with their juice

8 large fresh basil leaves, slivered

Pinch of sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 cups chicken stock

½ teaspoon allspice

2 cups heavy or whipping cream


  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onions, carrot, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables have wilted, 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and their juice, basil, sugar, and salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Then add the stock and allspice, and slowly bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 50 minutes.
  3. Puree the soup, in batches, in a blender or food processor. Return it to the pot, add the cream, adjust the seasonings, and heat through.


8 to 10 portions


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