Elena Rosemond-Hoerr

Southern food writer Elena Rosemond-Hoerr shares a recipe for a comforting slow cooker soup that's a snap to make—even when your kitchen is under renovation.

Two weeks ago, my family and I moved into our new house. Ten days before that, we closed on the house, and the night before that, we realized that 99 percent of the downstairs floor was not only painted in bold colors, it was painted bold colors on top of wallpaper. So the past three weeks have been a whirlwind of stripping wallpaper, scrubbing walls, priming (and priming and priming), and painting like mad. We still have a few rooms to go and we still have a horrifying number of boxes to unpack, but I’m happy to say the house is starting to feel like our home.

As you might expect, the kitchen was high priority. When we bought the house, the walls were painted highlighter yellow on top of floral wallpaper and the cabinets were a medium wood tone. This didn’t work at all (in my opinion) with black and white checkerboard floors, dark gray (with flecks of red and some shimmer) counters, and black appliances.

After much Pinterest-ing with the center of my design being the floors, I settled on blue lower cabinets, light gray upper cabinets, and white walls. The adjoining room will be my studio, so we chose a darker blue/slate color that complemented but didn’t match the cabinets. It all came together with a lot of elbow grease. Even though we know we have at least a few big projects ahead of us in here (maybe a backsplash?), we’ve already started adding some details to give it character and personality.

The first dinner we made in this house was a slow cooker soup, appropriate for both the cold snap and the fact that our new oven didn’t have any racks and our stovetop was covered in painting supplies. I had an abundance of red potatoes, so I made a simple potato, sausage, and mushroom soup that I topped with wilted arugula. Nothing fancy, but it was very good.

Watch: Slow Cooker Rules for Soup

I know that over the years we’ll make countless meals in this kitchen, everyday dinners and special feasts and everything in between. I hope that this kitchen will be the center of our home, and that this house will be our home for decades to come. It feels wonderful to invest in something that could be ours for the long-term, and it’s so much fun to dream up the possibilities.

Click here for Elena Rosemond-Hoerr's Slow Cooker Sausage and Potato Soup

Elena Rosemond-Hoerr is a Southern food writer, photographer, and cookbook author based in Wilmington, North Carolina.