Sometimes when we travel, we make tradeoffs. For this leg of my trip, I traded the convenience of a full kitchen for a killer view in an ideal location. I’ve accepted the challenge, and I’m improvising with back-pocket recipes like my Lemony Carrot Soup with Dill.

Travel cooking and tiny (shared) Airbnb kitchens

I’m staying in paradise. The view of Boka Bay from my bedroom in Kotor, Montenegro, makes my jaw drop every time, and I’m writing this post on a terrace that is out of a dream. The price for such splendor is that, unlike most of my travel stays, I am in a guest house. And this guest house has a tiny little two-burner shared kitchen. If you’ve been reading along, you know that I am no stranger to tiny kitchens, but this one definitely presents travel cooking challenges.

I’m gone for three months, which means that restaurant meals every night are both uneconomical (not to mention a bit much) and so it’s required me to get a bit creative. Travel cooking presents challenges, but it’s also a lot of fun, if we enter into it with the right sprit.

Snack meals, definitely, but sometimes we want a little more

I’m definitely leaning into the local cheese and charcuterie, with some veggies from the market and some olives plates, but with the rain Friday into Saturday, I wanted something a bit more substantial. Plus, I needed something to do. I decided christen the kitchen with one of my favorite back-pocket recipes Lemony Carrot Soup with Dill.

Travel Cooking. Ingredients for Lemony Carrot Soup with Dill
Using a back-pocket recipe to christen the shared Airbnb kitchen

Using a back-pocket recipe for my first travel cooking experience on this trip

I chose this recipe because it’s easy, super cheap (especially here), and easy to cut down to just 2-3 servings (there’s not a ton of room in that communal fridge for leftovers), and I know it well enough to know what I can experiment with.

Here’s what I bought:

  • Carrots, potato, and onion (the basic ingredients)
  • Lemon
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Good French butter

Let the travel cooking experiment begin!

I used the wooden spoon to ease down the small, cute red soup pot and set out to work. I peeled the and cut the veggies up smaller than I normally do for the soup, because there wasn’t a blender, and I also wanted things to cook faster. I got out the butter, parsley, and salt, and cut the lemon (dill goes last, so I left that in the fridge).

Challenge! Sweating the vegetables

I turned on the burner, and that’s when I noticed that the lowest it goes isn’t all that low. This recipe calls for sweating first the onions and then the carrots and potato in butter—it’s a simple technique that  builds a delicious soup. This might be a problem? What I did was get the onions going and then took them off the burner for a couple of minutes. I did this a couple of times, and I got the onions soft and only browned them a tiny bit. I did the same with the carrots and potato. It worked, and I had fun making do.

Making the soup

Next, we had the soup part. I added some water (I’d add more as the soup cooked), the lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper, and some of that vegetable stuff and gave it a taste. I then threw in the lemon half of the lemon to boost the flavor and added a little more salt. As with sweating the veggies, simmering also proved challenging, and I worked around that by not adding all the water at once, but adding more as the soup cooked. I tasted it again. Pretty good!

Finishing—and a new discovery

Next it was dill time. Normally, I just chuck in a bunch of dill, stems and all and puree the soup. However, we didn’t have a blender. I chopped the dill. I fished out the parsley and lemon and added the dill and gave it another taste. Dear Reader, I might add the lemon half to my soup again in the future. What a contrast between the comforting carrots and potatoes! Travel cooking win!

Travel cooking success!

I decided against trying to mash up the veggies. Some of the them had started to break down, but most of them were whole. Good enough. A pat of that French butter, a little more dill, and I had myself a lovely soup on a rainy day. Alas, I was a dummy, and I forgot to take a photo of the finished soup. All three times I had it.

Next up: Porcini risotto with dried mushrooms from the market.

Stormy days are good soup days

Tips for cooking in tiny Airbnb kitchens

  • To warm up, make something you’re reasonably comfortable cooking
  • Know what kind of equipment you have to work with—if you really need something specialized, you might want to try something else
  • Choose a dish you’re comfortable with improvising
  • Get creative—don’t have an ingredient? See what else is lurking in that communal spice bin. Someone’s usually left something behind that can work
  • Do make sure you have enough salt and buy some if there isn’t enough

What are your best tips/favorite travel cooking dishes?

What about you? What’s your best tip for travel cooking in a tiny little kitchen? What’s your favorite dish to make in a travel kitchen? Let us know in the comments!

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