“You will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or
illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either.”
-John Steinback, East Of Eden
Ask almost anyone what they find comforting in a time of need, or sickness, or general coldness of spirit or body and they will answer you quickly, "Soup". Although, soup certainly need not only be celebrated in times of despair, but also prosperity simply because it usually consists of such affordable ingredients.You can make essentially anything into a soup, simmer it slowly for a few ours then maybe add some cream, herbs or vegetables (or all of those) and you have a hearty delicious meal to be enjoyed with several others, or several times. That is precisely what the soup I made today was, (pictured above) and the ingredients and "recipe" will follow below. I find that soups are usually better the next day, after the ingredients have a chance to really get to know each other for a while. You can even stretch out the last bit of soup by adding a little more stock to thin it out (just a tiny bit), grate a nice hard cheese on some bread and broil it in the oven, and top it with the thinned out soup for a crunchy but mushy in an oddly yummy way, but very satisfying dish.
Soup usually ends up on our dinner table at least twice a week, in some form, because it is so economical, simple and sustainable. I don't really use recipes for soups anymore, because I have learned that what makes a soup really delicious, is balance and time. I don't claim to have a full understanding of what it means to make a balanced dish, or soup, but leaning away from using precise recipes helps to refine that sense. Is the soup a little bland and bleh? Add some salt, or maybe some crushed red pepper. Really rich? Squeeze some citrus or add a bit of vinegar depending on the other ingredients. Soup is a great place to start creating and experimenting with your own recipe ideas, it's pretty hard to mess up.
The first soup that I made on my own was for a friend of mine named Ryan. I had a smoked ham hock, the ends of several different bags of beans, a can of fire roasted tomatoes, and I think a tiny tiny bit of ground bison. I added this and that and tasted and threw in some rice at the end. He was late for dinner, he's the friend that usually is, and the soup started to stick to the bottom of the pot. I panicked a little after tasting it, there was a slightly burnt flavor that permeated the whole soup. I added a little garlic and hoped it would mask the flavor. When he arrived and dinner was served, I thought it was just alright, but when Ryan took that first bite he said something along the lines of "this tastes like what cow boys eat." and asked for a second bowl shortly after. What he was trying to say was that he loved that smokey/ charred flavor that came from the little bits sticking to the bottom. It's all about perspective.
Chick Pea & Kale Pesto Soup
1 can of chickpeas (rinsed)
6 c of water
2 cubes of rupunzel salt free vegetable bouillon
1/2 cup left over smashed potatoes
1 oddly huge red potato, cubed
2 tablespoons of kale pesto (or any pesto)
1 rind of a chunk of parmesan reggiano
crushed red pepper to taste
1/2 pound of mild raw italian
pork sausage rolled into balls*
Boil the water and add the bouillon in a heavy bottom pot. (I use a dutch oven for pretty much every soup I make) Add the rind, chickpeas, cubed and mashed potatoes, pesto and meat balls. Season with s&p, and crushed red pepper to taste. Bring every thing to just under a boil, then turn it down to medium low and let it simmer for a few hours. If it starts to reduce too much and gets too thick add a little more water (or stock if you have it). Now, this soup is certainly not a "looker" the kale gives it an interesting green color which some people may not be into, if that is the case, add some pretty fresh herbs on top with more crushed red pepper to make it look a little less "earthy". This can totally be made vegetarian by omitting the meat, but I suggest adding another can (at least) of chickpeas in that case. Serve it with some fresh grated parmesan and thick slices of warm bread.
* to make the meat balls, remove casing from sausages and add a handful of breadcrumbs, and egg, a sprinkling of parmesan and s&p. Use your hands (or a fork if you're squeamish) and combine everything well, this will take a few minutes. Roll the meat into little balls, about the size of a quarter.
Check back next week for Elise's take on soup.
If you'd like to participate in this series, email me
Thanks for reading!