Saturday, October 27, 2012


If I could stand in the kitchen all day, chopping, and sauteing vegetables in a pot, I would be content. This is why I love to cook. It is the part that makes me want to try new recipes, and continue to make over, and over, my old faithfuls. I love having my hands on the ingredients, and seeing the transformation. The smells, and the browning of onions, and garlic. I love pouring wine into a pan, and scraping up the bits on the bottom, and making few ingredients turn into something magical. And adding the salt and pepper with my fingers is just delightful.

I have never been into soups. Never ordered them out. Never made them for the girls. Olivia used to see Campbell commercials, and a few years ago, the jingle was sung by a woman with a deep voice, soothingly singing "possibilities". She thought that was what soup was called. We would be in the supermarket, and she would ask for possibilities for lunch.  That just cracked me up, and I would buy the condensed soup for her, and she loved eating it for lunch. She would slurp up every sodium laden spoonful, and beg for more. 

The last few weeks, I have felt heavy. Not physically, although I always do, but heavy in my heart, and in my mind. I feel like I have lots going on, and nowhere to go with it. Things in my life, and relationships, are not quite right. Not really where I would like them to be, and I am fearful they never will be. And money...always money. I have been drawn to my heavy Le Creuset pot. Soup. That is what has been on my mind, when all other things seem to just run in a circle in my head, and go no where, I have been making soup. 

 Two weeks ago, I made a minestrone. It was delicious. I chopped, and chopped, and sweat the vegetables, and simmered the stock. I even squished up the tomato's and threw a few more green beans in, and what I was left with was delicious. I ate it all week for lunch with a little bread, and some parmigiano reggiano sprinkled on top. It got better with each day. 

Last week was a pureed cannelini bean soup that was so creamy and delicious. It got it's creaminess from the beans and nothing else. I put kale into it at the final stage, and ladled it into a bowl. Toasted garlic chips that I had made in a small pan were sprinkled on top, and a teeny drizzle of olive oil. It was divine, and fed me until Thursday.

There is a storm coming. Today was spent gathering camping supplies, ice, batteries. Our lanterns are ready, and we have bags of candles. On the stove, simmering, is my pot of vegetable stock. I chopped carrots, and celery, onions and garlic. Fresh thyme and parsley, along with a parsnip, and scallion are bubbling away. Later, I will use it to make a potato leek soup. I know it will keep for a few days. No dairy in it. I can even put it into containers. I hope this storm moves out quickly, and without damage. I am worried, and stressed. So I will cook. And sweat it out that way.

Yesterday, I got a letter from a reader of my newspaper column. It made me cry. I would like to share some of it....

"I have read your articles since you began and have found them to be most interesting. I have also observed a great deal of growth of wisdom and understanding on your part of the situation you and your family are in. All situations are life lessons, and you are an excellent student.

I am a 75 year old retired math teacher who experienced a childhood much the same as your daughters are experiencing now. Mom was a magician in the kitchen-made soup out of everything! We had carrot soup, string bean soup, Lima bean soup, tomato soup with pasta, potato soup, everything in the pot soup, and so on. She canned fruits and veggies for soups and desserts in the winter. She made pickles and kraut in a crock in the basement. I had a peanut butter sandwich and a container of milk for school for lunch everyday for six years. Helping her, and watching her handle difficult times, prepared me for dealing with adversity later when I became a single parent of four daughters"......

Wow. I literally teared up, and was amazed at the timing of this beautiful note. A stranger sharing a part of her life with me. Suddenly, I recalled my Mom's chicken soup, made from the roaster she made for dinner, and all the leftovers thrown into it. I could almost taste the delicious rye bread she would make, to go along with her famous fish soup, made with whatever veggies she had on hand, and a block of frozen fish she would take out of the freezer, that was shaped like a rectangle. And I remember the little Faber-ware pot on the stove that she would make potato soup out of, and ate that soup all week for her lunch. I used to think she adored potato soup. Now I think that was all she had for herself, saving other things for us to eat. 

My pot of soup will hopefully make it through this week. I will keep my fingers crossed that we don't lose power for too long. The thought of my refrigerator filled with food spoiling makes me tense. We can't replace it. But we will have no choice but to weather the storm.

 And from the storms weathered by women before me, we will do just fine. 



  1. Beautiful post Erin.

    I love soup too. I'm getting ready to make a pot of it today.

  2. I don't LOVE eating soup either, but I looove the process of making it. I never realized the therapeutic value of it until it was pointed out by a friend when I was still married.. after a particularly salty fight between my ex and I, I began to make soup. My friend Katie happened to stop by that afternoon on her way home from work... "Oh boy, what happened? What'd he do now?" and I was taken aback! "How'd you know?" "uh.. cause you're making soup, dummy" and she went on to tell me about my habit that I had no idea I had. huh.