Soup of the day is perfect every day, all winter long


Sometimes, you just have to eat soup.

On a recent chilly day around lunchtime, my inner core was screaming for something warm. I knew it wanted soup.

Alas, I had brought a nice salad for lunch, lovingly made by my husband - as he does nearly every day. I always enjoy these salads, but today, I knew it just wouldn't be enough.

This was a post-Christmas work day, following a full day of nibbling for hours between an early breakfast and a late dinner. I knew my body would be exceptionally happy with the salad, loaded with leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and other healthful veggies.

But it was cold in the office, and colder outside my window. My innards were craving something a little more substantial and considerably warmer.

I needed soup.

But not just any soup would do. As a kid, I adored Campbell's Tomato with saltine crackers. My mom used to make it for us - especially when we were sick - with milk, instead of water as the can directed. It was creamy and delicious.

The little kid in me thought that the Campbell people had invented soup. My mother's vegetable soup proved that theory wrong. Moms invented soup.

My mom used every single leftover vegetable from the previous week's meals to make hers. Peas, tomatoes, carrots, squash, green beans - it all went into the flavorful broth.

Then there was her potato soup. I loved potatoes, so it became my favorite. I think she added half a gallon of milk and a pound of butter to the potatoes.

When I was older, I tried to replicate it. My hubby found it a little bland. It wasn't as good as mom's, because I didn't want to put all that heavy butter and milk into it.

So, the next batch was loaded. To the potato water, I added sauteed onions and celery, added carrot chunks, then some peas for color. I sprinkled thyme and oregano over the top.

It became more of a stew, but we still called it soup. My master chef sister-in-law helped me write up a proper recipe for it, with real measurements and method and such. It was officially named Winter Soup. (Because, after all, one wouldn't eat this heavily laden grog in the summer!)

Fast forward a few years. In my first column for this newspaper, published Oct. 6, 2009, I expressed my intention to "give all readers an opportunity to send me information," whether business news, garden tips, photos of children, or "your best recipe for a steaming pot of soup."

It seems I have a thing about soup!

Indeed. So let's get back to the recent "must have soup" day.

I felt the urge to just go next door to the Juice Hive to see if they happened to have something on the stove. Ah-ha. Liz had just made a big pot of lentil soup. I bought a cup.

It was delicious, with lentils perfectly cooked, and loaded with carrots, celery, onion and bits of tomato. The broth was delightful - not too spicy, but flavorful, with just the right seasonings.

Most importantly, it was warm. Not hot. Blissfully warm. One cup of that earthy brown nectar and my core was warm and happy. Cold, tired muscles seemed to be rejuvenated.

Even my typing fingers loosened up enough to type this entire column in one fell swoop - which, interestingly, rhymes with "soup."

Soup. It's good for what ails you.

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