Making soup

11.06.15

soup - 1

BEAUTIFUL Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

–Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

This is the cover of a binder in my kitchen which is full of soup recipes I’ve made or intend to make.   When Summer arrives each year, I always exclaim that I no longer know how to prepare anything except soup, having made pots and pots for months and months.  In Winter, I don’t even bother rummaging through the other giant, messy expanding file of recipes, collected over my lifetime; everything I need is somewhere in this soup notebook.  (Except for the Dutch apple pie recipe I make on Thanksgiving, written in my mother’s precise handwriting on a stained 3×5 card.)

Last year, I bought Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette.  I start there for inspiration, as it’s organized by the months.  I cheated last night, by going back to October, but I’m off to a late start this year and a Soupe au Pistou sounded especially good with late harvest vegetables.  I love reading how Brother Victor talks about which raw ingredients are available each month at his monastery as well as the history of every soup. Some are named after individual Brothers, and he writes about the humble pasts of their Saints.  I’ve learned that there is a lot of wine consumed in the monastery!  There’s a rare soup that doesn’t have wine as an essential broth base as well as an asterisk at the bottom of the recipe:   “For extra flavor, be sure and add at least a cup of white wine.”  What could be better on these dark cold nights than a nice fire, delicious soup in the green enamel Le Creuset pot on my stove, and all that wine!

Brother Victor introduces the reader to his cookbook by writing:  “Soup making is basic to life, and thus it is intimately linked to daily living with all that implies:  the rhythm of work and everyday routine, the change of seasons, the size and tastes of families, time limitations, the quality of ordinary meals as well as that of festive celebrations.  Soups easily adapt themselves to any situation or circumstance of daily living, and often they bring much comfort to it…soup remains a faithful friend during all of life’s occasions.”  How lovely to be part of this rhythm of life with such a faithful friend.

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