How Food Blogger Liz Harris Went from Floating Kitchen to Family Farm

Liz Harris’ fourth-generation family farm in New England beckoned the food blogger home to grow, cook and create with the seasons.

In Salem, New Hampshire, food blogger Liz Harris is ready for what she labels “orange food season.” Right now, Liz’s favorite harvest hue graces her soup pot in the form of fresh-picked butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot and pumpkin from her family’s century-old farm in Salem, New Hampshire.

Liz is also all-in for apple picking (check out our tips), pie making, hiking to see foliage and even raking leaves. She loves the crisp shift of the seasons and the nostalgia surrounding it—“growing up in New England, I think you kind of have to!” she says, laughing. “These were things I missed dearly when I lived on the West Coast.”

(Find 25+ recipes native to New England.)

Biologist Turned Blogger

Back then, Liz was a scientist specializing in cancer biology. But in 2012 she made the tough decision to leave the research bench and pursue a career in food. From her teeny floating home in Seattle, she started to share her recipes and photography on her website, Floating Kitchen.

“My kitchen, and everything else, literally did float,” she says, still wistful for the calm that came with waking up on the water. “I loved taking the time each morning to have my coffee out on the dock—that is, of course, when it wasn’t raining!” (See our favorite rainy-day recipes.)

A Century-Old Family Farm & Its Lessons

She has left the houseboat life behind but is still cooking up a storm—now with produce from Donabedian Bros., her family’s small farm and hydroponic greenhouse that has delivered fruits and vegetables to the Salem community since the early 1900s. “It’s been in our family for more than 100 years,” she says. “And I now work there one or two days a week as well. (Psst! Support local farms by joining a CSA program.)

“Seeing firsthand just how hard farmers work, and how deeply they care for their land and their crops or animals, has given me a lot of respect for the farming community,” she says. “The demands of farming are great. We depend on these people every single day.”

She grew up watching the older generation of women in her family cook and learning their specialties—like her Great-Aunt Dorothy’s cookies or Great-Aunt Carrie’s dinner rolls. “Food was always a major part of the conversation,” Liz says. “And not just as we approached holidays or during family gatherings, but every day.”

(Taste of Home readers share their family’s food traditions.)

Experimenting with Home-Grown Goodness

In addition to her beloved orange-food season, Liz fully embraces soup season. (Are you making these mistakes with soup?) Her Creamy Sweet Potato, Apple and Leek Soup with Parmesan Croutons is her cozy ode to both.

Still a scientist at heart, she learned from previous iterations of this recipe to dial in full fall flavor by adding a tart-sweet apple and warming paprika and minced ginger. And to top it all off? “I have a rule about no naked soups,” she jokes. Cue the crunchy, peppery Parmesan croutons. “I firmly believe all soups should have a topping. It really elevates even the most simple of soup recipes.” (Check out these creative soup toppers.)

Liz’s Golden Recipe

Golden Recipe

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A very doable weeknight dinner, this soup can be whipped up in less than an hour. And Liz thinks bowls are even better the next day. “The flavors become more pronounced over time,” she says. So save some to serve as lunch the next day, too.

Creamy Sweet Potato, Apple & Leek Soup with Parmesan Croutons

Don’t skip the homemade croutons in this creamy soup—they provide some crunchy oomph! This recipe yields 1-1/2 quarts of soup.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups cubed peeled sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup thinly sliced ​​leek (white portion only)
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Croutons

  • 2 cups cubed bread (rustic Italian or French)
  • 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream

directions

Step 1: Saute vegetables

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In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, leeks and apple; cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are just tender, 7-8 minutes.

Step 2: Simmer & process

processing vegetables with immersion blender

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Stir in the garlic, ginger, tomato paste, salt, paprika and pepper; cook until very fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the stock, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered with lid slightly ajar, until the potatoes are very soft, 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Process in a blender or food processor until smooth; return to pan. Stir-in cream; heat through.

Step 3: Make croutons

making croutons

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Meanwhile, for the croutons, preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the Parmesan cheese, oil and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake until golden brown and crispy, 10-15 minutes, stirring once. Serve the hot soup with croutons, parsley and cream.

How to Freeze Soup

Freeze cooled soup in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally; add a little broth or cream if necessary.

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