Monday, January 23, 2012

Soup's on

Lately we've been eating a lot of soup. It's been cold, we've been late getting home most nights, and a big batch of soup will keep us going for days. Last week BP made us a terrific seafood tomato soup, which was like a quick version of boulliabaise; last night we made this harvest bean soup with warm spices (though we used a mix of beans, not just black).  A couple of weeks ago it was a carrot ginger, with a dollop of yogurt on top.  I'm threatening to do beet soup soon.

There is something so comforting about soup.  And, practical:  we can reheat it multiple times, change it up with different toppings, or different bread,  or toss in some pasta or grain,  for several nights during the week.

The essence to good soup  is great stock.  We always keep a "stock bag" in our freezer, with pieces of vegetables (such as the ends cut off of carrots, or the limp celery that is too tired to use in a salad), left over herbs, bones from any meat we've eaten (the bean soup was enriched by a nice ham bone).  When the bag is big enough, we empty it into a big pot, fill it with water, add carrots and onion,  and whatever else we think of:  fresh herbs from the garden, a generous pour of black peppercorns, the bay laurel leaves that I collect every time I visit my mother in Berkeley.  We regularly make veggie stock too, using mushrooms to give it the savory umami taste.  Once it has cooked for hours, we strain it, defat it, and pour it into icecube trays.  That way we always have enough stock for deglazing a pan, or putting together to make soup.

In fact, with stock in the freezer, we always have a quick dinner on hand:  cut up carrots,celery and onion, sauté quickly, and drop into the broth.  Mushrooms, left over chicken, parsley, a can of tomatoes, pasta -- any of this can be added too.  Sprinkle with a little parmesan and poof!  dinner.  Or make it Asian flavor, as a hotpot, using a little soy and sake or miso, to flavor the broth, dipping in tofu, waterchestnuts, frozen edamame or spinach, serving over hot rice.

We think of soup kitchens when we think of feeding people.  After Maundy Thursday service there's always a potluck soup dinner in the church.  The story of Stone Soup  reminds us of community and cooperation.  It's the essence of a communal meal;  we don't usually make soup for one!

Perhaps a lot of our problems could be solved if we could figure out how to have soup together.  Because if you are gathered around the soup pot, passing your bowl to be filled, you have to talk to each other.

Don't you?


Wormwood's Doxy said...

Yes, you do. And people with full bellies seem to be less contentious, so there's that. ;-)

Now you've made me hungry! I made a big pot of bean soup for Dear Friend yesterday before I left. Wish I had brought some of it with me...sigh.

PseudoPiskie said...

I make large pots of various kinds of soup and freeze them in individual servings. I would probably starve if I didn't do this as I'm often either too lazy or too hungry or too rushed to take time preparing a regular meal. Sometimes I share the soup at church or Bible study before I freeze the leftovers. I love hearty soups even in summer.

You just gave me an idea. What if our small church were invited to create a Stone Soup? Bring ingredients and large pots and see what develops. We could eat then give the leftovers to the shelter. Hmmm. Thanks.

IT said...

Great idea, pseudopiskie.

Let us know how it turns out.

Grandmère Mimi said...

IT, you made me salivate. Tom keeps a soup stock to make his excellent vegetable soups, none of which taste the same, but they're all good. He freezes the leftovers in bags with enough to serve two in generous portions.

Your final words in the post are so very true.

Piskie, I like your idea, too.

Ann said...

Bishop Tutu sums up the AC - we meet and we eat. If only that would be enough for those who wish for more rules.

JCF said...

I keep a stock bag (in the freezer), too: it gives me a thrill to see how many different kinds of things I can put in my stock!

[The obligatory veggie ends and onion skins, tomato tops, bellpepper cores, pear cores, lemon peels. Last batch, I had a couple of chicken bones, a lambchop bone, and some mussel shells! :-)]

Haven't poured it into ice cubes. In addition to cup o' soup (at any time, in many varieties), I also use it in omelettes and (esp) in cooking rice.