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.