Monday, May 23, 2011

The Love of Soup

Sauteing carrots, celery, onion, and garlic
 One writer and one scientist attempt to follow a new recipe which results in the writer meditating on the meaning and significance of soup in her life.

Anjali and I are as different as cumin and rosemary. I think this works though through our similarities and shared loves:

-Ballroom is important (though in how, we differ)
-We read the Russians
-We love soup

 Today, Anjali and I began what I think will become as Summer 2011 tradition: a shared Sunday dinner of soup. This was inspired when I impulsively bought "The Soup Bible" when I bought my cap and gown. I sat on the floor of the HUB bookstore near tears in delight.

Soup is a marvelous thing. I recently declared that if Soup was a love language, it would be mine. I'm not sure how it came to be this way. It is one of my favorite foods to make when I get the chance--last fall, I won a chili cookoff in the vegetarian category with a white chili that was more soup than chili.

There are few foods that make me feel more restored which is why I think I love it so much. Something about the heat hitting an empty stomach that shocks the body into recognizing being alive and the intense, nearly painful, joy in being fed.

There was the time at Hershey Park with Mim, Abby, and Hannah when we got caught in the rain and wore trash bags in an attempt to stay dry. Mom fed us chicken and rice soup that night and we watched "The Winslow Boy" instead of staying until the park closed.

There was the time at the MIT ballroom competition. After the last latin awards, my van was late in finding us. I had been dancing since early that morning and hadn't eaten lunch and it was near 2pm. Fraleigh let me have some of his tortilla soup. Most of it actually. It was like being run over with a comforting train. My body relaxed and I settled in for a nap.

There was the time as the semester came to a close and I was anxious about the coming year and gloomy from all the rain. Seth made squash soup with chives and rice and almond milk in strange pottery bowls. It was my first meal that day and, as sometimes happens with soup, I nearly cried from happiness. The soup itself made me so happy to be alive, to know that there were good things worth tasting and experiencing.

Strange how one food dish can be all that in just a few sips.

I look forward to this summer and further tries at soup experiments. I look forward to feeding the people who come into Patty's Place with food somehow intended in its nature to restore.

Today's menu: Spiced black bean soup with sour cream and cilantro. Also tasted good on rice.
Response: Anjali gave this soup at 3.5/5 stars but primarily because of its "anti-hindu" beef stock base. Jon Checkan (of Iron Chef: J House fame) gave it 4/5. General consensus was that it would have been better with less broth (I was guessing at some proportions) and less salt. Also: make more. Tripling a recipe for an unknown number of people is a good idea.
Lesson: soup is rarely elegant looking. In fact, it usually looks strange and ugly. But the flavors and texture can be complex and surprising with each repeated bite. And don't add salt when you use a bouillon based stock.

The finished product. Using a favored bowl is always a plus.

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