Thursday, February 19, 2009

Soup 101: Introduction

This week has turned into a whirlwind. I started the week with some sort of virus that left me rather green around the gills and wishing that food was not a necessary part of life. And that's pretty darned serious! But I recovered lickety-split and had doc appointments and errands... I should probably be exhausted from it all, but I'm not. I seem to have lots of energy to spare. And I have to point to the food that's sustained me this week: soup.

I heart soup. I've sung it's praises many times before, and the several soup recipes that I've already posted are a good indicator of that love. We eat soup a lot--it's warming and hearty, doesn't require a lot of fussing over, and stays hot in the slow cooker while I'm doing other things.

We turn to soup during busy times. A simmering pot brimming with yummy goodness and slurpy, nutritious broth is my kind of comfort food.

I especially like to make it for my grandmother. At 88 years old, G'ma is a lifetime lover of soup. From early autumn through the early days of summer, if there's any kind of nip in the air, it's a good day for soup. I guess that's where I get it from. Is it raining? Let's make soup. Snowing? More soup. Ice storm? Soup again.

And over a bowl of soup G'ma will invariably tell you about the many soups she consumed throughout her childhood made by her French immigrant mother. Soup made with lamb, and soup made with beef. Soup made with turkey and soup made with mysterious scraps of this-and-that. It was, after all, the great depression. But no matter what the contents, she describes them all as delicious and her mother as the queen of homemade soup. She'll also tell you that she never could make her own soups, somehow unable to grasp the process. Her kids--my mother, aunt and uncle--never had soup at home until it came out in cans.

This week, especially, I found myself thinking about that. I've always just thrown things together in a pot and made soup. It seems sort of second nature--but obviously that wasn't the case for G'ma. Clearly it's not easy for everyone. Perhaps that's not the case for you, either. So, for you, I'm going to spend a few days talking about soup--Soup 101, if you will.

I could rapture on and on about how soup makes good economic sense, uses up leftovers and stretches your meal dollars; you know this already. But that doesn't make much sense to talk about if you don't know how to do it. And the problem is that there are no specific rules to soup--making broth, especially, is more of a process than a recipe, depends on what you have on-hand, and especially the seasoning takes a lot of tasting--and practice.

With a few basic ingredients, an "I Can Do This!" attitude, and a big pan with a lid, homemade soup is achievable for anyone.

Even your non-cooking life partner can whip up a batch of homemade (or nearly homemade--we'll get to that soon enough) soup when you're too busy, or not feeling well. Mr.W did just that this week. Really! There was a container of turkey broth in the fridge and he took it upon himself to de-fat it, bring it to a simmer, make little meatballs, chop escarole and add tomatoes and barley. What genius! What love! What soup!

Perhaps he knew he had to redeem himself from the cheese poisoning incident. Either way, Mr.W is forgiven.

It brought me back to health and well-being, so much that at my doctor's appointment the staff was impressed by my remarkably speedy recovery from my recent gall bladder surgery and that there was barely a sign of me having been sick earlier in the week at all.

Hooray for me! Hooray for Mr.W! And hooray for soup!


Sam said...

OOh looking forward to more soup posts, I'm one of them that loves soup but never makes it. I keep thinking I would like to make a good minestrone but never do! one day...

Kathy said...

Hooray for soup indeed! I tend to like to make a big pot of soup on Sundays (well, except in the late spring and summer, with the possible exception of a cold soup...but I prefer warm soups in general). I tried out a few new ones in the past few weeks and I swear, they never disappoint...

Amanda said...

Sam, you can do it!

Kathy, I'm with you--soup never seems to disappoint!

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