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The Philosophy of Juice & Crackers
A CUP OF COMFORT
8 December 2015
The smell reached my nose as we entered the house. It was warm and the air was filled with the smell of pumpkin and spices. I made my way to the kitchen, which was filled with other volunteers from Logos, as we all were there at the thank you party given by Susan and Peter. This was my third or fourth year to attend this party and I knew that on the stove there would be a huge pot of pumpkin soup.
I picked up a styrofoam cup and filled it with the thick, fragrant liquid and made my way into the living room to find a group of people to sit with. The soup was warm in my hands and as I brought it to my lips, the smell filled my nostrils and brought a smile to my face. I took a sip and rolled it around in my mouth, savoring all the spices and feeling the warmth spread through my whole body, removing the chill from the cold air outside.
Is there anything more comforting than a nice warm cup of soup?
I don't remember my mother making a lot of homemade soup, but I remember her split pea soup, rich with the flavor from a ham bone with bits of ham floating in the green puree.
The soups I remember were things she bought. To this day, I love the flavor of Campbell's cream of tomato soup. It has to be made with milk, not water and is best served with a slice of soft white bread slathered with real butter, which is then folded in half and dunked into the soup, a taste that is unmatched by anything else.
We also had a lot of chicken noodle soup, but that didn't come from a can. To this day, canned chicken noodle soup doesn't taste nearly as good as Lipton's dried version, with its short super thin slices of pasta that absorved the flavor that came from that little packet of spices and those dried chunks of chicken, all 3 of them (OK...maybe there were more than 3 chunks, but not that many) and those tiny hard chunks of carrot.
I have made a lot of soup in my day. I made a turkey soup just this week, finally breaking up the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving that had been wrapped in foil in the fridge. I put it in a large pot and let it simmer all day, the house filled with the smell of turkey, onion, celery and spices as it cooked. This time I used a pot I had not thought to use before. It came with a strainer inside which made removing the turkey bits a thousand percent easier. Why hadn't I thought of that before.
I mixed the broth with carrots, celery and the turkey meat off the boiled carcass and then mixed with egg noodles, which helped to thicken the soup. So good. There is enough broth left to freeze and make another dinner soup sometime in the future. The next time I will add potatoes and more veggies.
Walt often makes Top Ramen for himself for lunch. We buy packages by the box at Costco. He adds tofu and whatever vegetables he has in the house. Bok Choi is a big hit.
Our friends host a New Year's Eve party each year and at midnight a delicious lobster bisque is served.
My favorite soup is Lamb Soup of the Middle East, which is in my soup cookbook. I haven't made it in a long time because leg of lamb is so expensive I rarely have a lamb bone to use, but this soup is filled with lots of spices, primarily cumin, which is my favorite spice.
There is nothing more comforting on a cold night than a nice cup of soup and if it like the pumpkin soup, filled with lovely spices, that's even better. I often make some kind of squash soup. Walt isn't fond of squash, but likes it when it's made into soup. I like to add coconut to add a different kind of flavor.
When we lived in Oakland we had a stove that had a sunken burner and a soup pot which i could fill with water, into which I could just toss all leftover bones and veggies and keep it simmering all the time. Once a week or so, I would strain it and add ingredients to make a rich soup for dinner. What a great idea that was. Haven't seen anything like that in decades. The house just always had the hint of a nice soup simmering on the stove.
The comfort of soup may continue long into one's life. My mother's regular lunch every time we go to lunch is vegetable soup. She chooses it as if she had never seen it on the menu before and she heartily spoons the broth into her mouth, always leaving the vegetables in the cup. I haven't been able to figure that one out, since she has always been a vegetable person. But the soup seems to restore her and it's nice to see her enjoying it.
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