A month of soup

With it being so bitter cold in my neck of the woods, I want soup. And a can of Campbells just won’t do. I was raised on homemade soup, and when the weather turns or a nasty cold invades my system or a surgery is imminent, homemade soup is what I crave. I toyed with the idea of making a different soup every day for a month, but that may be the cold weather talking (seriously, 27 degrees in Houston?? Egads). Then I realized that I don’t even have a month between now and my reconstruction, and once I have the surgery, it’ll be quite a while before I’m able to cook again.

When I am able to cook again, I’ll be making soup. The weather will have warmed up by then; in fact, we may even be trending toward summer. But I’ll still want homemade soup. It must be genetic. My mom made soup. Well, actually she made everything, but soup for sure. She had many specialities, but her broccoli soup was my favorite. I’m not a big fan of broccoli (I eat it because it’s good for me and packed with important things like cartenoids, vitamin C, calcium, beta-carotene, lutein, and phytochemicals); but I love my mom’s broccoli soup. She knew the recipe by heart, but I have to look it up. Luckily for me, the cookbook falls open to the broccoli soup page every time. 

When I was a kid, my mom helped run a cooking school with a friend of hers, Mary Gubser. Mary is a bread and soup guru. She wrote a few cookbooks and taught cooking classes out of her home for suburban women who wanted to learn how to put a yummy and nutritious meal on the table.

I remember one time I was probably younger than Macy, and I was sick on a cooking school day. My mom bundled me up with a bag full of activities (no PSPs or iTouches back then) and took me with her. I settled on Miss Mary’s couch and listened to the women chattering as they went through the lesson: herbed vegetable soup and meunster cheese bread. My mom brought me a piece of baguette, warm from the oven, with real butter, and it remains to this day one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

Maybe that’s why I love food so much: because memories of meals are so interwoven with memories of my mom. Food is such a powerful force, and it does way more than provide fuel for our bodies and sustain us through the day.

Soup has always been comfort food for me. You can have your mashed potatoes & gravy, your mac & cheese, your pot roast. I’ll take soup. But it’s gotta be homemade.

I got the love of soup from my mom, and Payton & Macy got it from me. In fact, Macy takes a thermos of homemade chicken noodle soup in her lunch every day. She’s vegetarian, but some things, like my chicken noodle soup and PF Chang’s honey-seared chicken, don’t count as meat in her mind.

Every week, I make a big pot of chicken noodle soup. For me, there is security in routine. Making soup for my kids every week is a ritual, and when chopping onions, celery, and carrots, I fall into an easy rhythm. Sauteeing the veggies in glistening green olive oil and with a few garlic cloves fills the kitchen with a smell of innate goodness that fills me up. Anyone can open a can of Campbells, but making what I consider real soup is a different thing entirely. It’s a labor of love, which I hope fuels and sustains my kids and weaves a delicate yet tangible ribbon of connection between them and me.