You might — or might not — know that around my own house I’m known as “The Soup Queen.” I’m proud of my moniker and after all these years of souping, I choose to believe I deserve it. I can make a fancy-schmancy soup, having bought every single ingredient for it at a certain expense (Let’s say a gorgeous seafood stew for Christmas Eve, for instance), but there’s also the very good chance I’ll look in the refrigerator and pantry to come up with dinner based on what just happens to be lying around looking sad and sorry. Folks who know me have probably had a pot or bowl of soup left on their doorstep at some time or another — maybe when they weren’t feeling up to snuff or when I had more soup than my freezer would hold. Others have shown up for a dinner party only to find two big pots of soup on the stove and a big basket of bread on the counter along with several bottles of my favorite wines. My friend Jean, who gets a little soup every week lately as she’s recovering from a back injury, likes to say, “Please keep me on your soup list!” It makes a woman feel good.Continue reading
I definitely got my love of soup from my dad, an inveterate soup maker, who would have turned 111 this past weekend were he still fishing on earth instead of on that perfect heavenly lake chock full of bass:
above: my proud dad in the same fishing outfit he wore for all the years I can remember
Soup is probably my most loved food if you haven’t yet figured that out. Right after pizza. Well, perhaps this is a difficult thing to discern. I could eat soup every day and sometimes do. While I lust after pizza–any kind except pineapple–I don’t think I could eat it every day.
I’ve worked on Christmas Eve for many years, so our Christmas Eve dinner was always something like a soup I left in the crock-pot while I directed the choir at church. Or it might have been a made-ahead casserole like cassoulet that finished up in the oven while “Silent Night” was sung. One year I made a fish stew base early in the morning, heated it around 9pm, and threw in the seafood and fish for a few minutes until it had just cooked through. On a rare occasion we’d go out for dinner before the first service or in between services if I had to direct an 11 o’clock. (at left: PPUMC Choir, Minneapolis)
|Hot lunch on a cold spring day|
Outside the window in the new/old (1915) St. Paul house, it’s fairly gray. Everything’s gray, in fact. Melting snow, sky, sun, trees…even the birds appear kind of gray. But spring it is!
|Jack Sparrow and Friend|
When you’ve moved, the chores are myriad. It seems you’re always running to the hardware store for a light switch cover or to Target for garbage bags and peanut butter. If you’re not running, you’re on the phone with the phone company or recycling folks. If you’re not on the phone, you’re looking at paint samples or asking where the post office is. (What happened to phone books?)
Sooner or later, plates seem to be on shelves and towels are clean and folded in the bathroom. You know where to turn the light on for the basement and have figured out what that horrible sound is between the floors or in the walls. (Hot water pipes.) You have the turn to your house memorized and don’t have to count houses from the corner anymore. And one day, you start making meals again–hardly noticing the skipped nights or that you’re in a different kitchen. Well, I wouldn’t go that far. I am definitely in a different kitchen, though I’m feeling the similarities as I get things squared away.
I had things to do this morning like
- clean the back porch
- scrub the basement stairs (honest-to-God linoleum)
- wash rugs and bathmats
- bleach down the bathrooms, one of which has an old-fashioned claw-foot tub
Cool thing was, these are typical house chores–not moving chores. We’ve been here long enough for the bathrooms to need a scrub.
So when I got done with the morning work-out, I wanted real food for lunch. I was sure my hard-working husband wanted some, too. Scouting out the frig and pantry (still not full, of course), a big cauliflower reared up its head called me by name. A quick look around the counter and I located onions, shallots, garlic, apples and one lone pretty ripe pear. I thought I’d throw most of it in the oven to roast while I did one last chore and then puree it all with some chicken stock and curry powder. Here it is just for you.
As Dave and I sat down to eat, Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” (1913) came on the local NPR and the day just came together. A spring-like light, but warming soup with a kick. I just couldn’t figure out how Bach’s birthday figured in, but it’s today, too. Happy Birthday, Johann. And thanks for Bach, God.
Curried Roasted-Cauliflower Soup
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 apple, peeled and cut up into eighths
1 large onion, same drill
4t olive oil, divided
Sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 shallot, cut in large pieces
1 garlic clove, same drill
1 small carrot, minced
1 stalk of celery, minced
1 ripe pear, peeled and cut up
1 t curry powder, divided
Pinch each cinnamon and crushed red pepper
1 qt chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 c each white wine and water (or 1 c water)
1/3 c parsley, chopped
1/8 t cinnamon
1/4 t kosher salt
1/8 t white pepper, ground
Preheat oven to 350 F. On a large baking sheet, place cauliflower, onion and apple. Drizzle with 2t oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place sheet in oven and roast for about 30 minutes.
Meantime, in a small soup kettle (4qt), saute shallot, garlic, carrot and celery in the other 2t olive oil about 5 minutes over low heat, taking care to not burn the shallot and garlic. Add pear, 1/2 t of the curry powder, parsley, cinnamon and crushed red pepper. Stir and saute another minute or so. Add stock, wine and/or water, cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a bare simmer.
When cauliflower, apple and onion are roasted, add them to the stockpot and stir. Bring soup up to a boil and lower heat to a slow boil. Add rest of curry powder. Let cook 5-10 minutes. Puree with immersion blender or in batches in the food processor (carefully). Taste, adjust seasonings and serve hot with a piece of buttered whole wheat toast.
Easier yet: Roast everything, add to stock and puree. Leaving out fruit, celery, carrot, etc. will produce a more pronounced cauliflower-tasting soup, but also makes things simpler.
Now I’m off to Ace to buy a mesh strainer for the end of the washing machine hose. Oh well.
Sing a new song or warm up your fingers and give Bach a whirl,