Fall is a whirl of activity, sweeping by like the birch leaves that litter our sidewalk. It's my favorite time of year. I used to think it had something to do with my birthday being in the fall. And then one day I learned that my birthday is not in the fall. It's really on the tail-end of summer. I was a bit discouraged when I realized that. Oh, well. It's still my favorite time of year.
I think of sweaters and steaming mugs of cocoa, the thick smell of smoke rising from the chimneys as I take my afternoon walk, little girls in plaid skirts and Mary Janes, thick books, sharpened pencils . . . and I think of soup.
So last week I hatched a soup plan. You see, I could eat soup every day. And it makes such a great lunch. So I decided that Saturday would be my Soup Making Day. (We shall see how long my enthusiasm lasts.) Last week I made a big pot of Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa. I stored it away in the fridge, and on Monday during our morning break I popped it on the stove. By the time I had returned from my crispy-blustery pre-lunch walk, I had a nice, hot pot of soup waiting for me. It was such a treat, and it saved me a bunch of time.
The kids were divided on this particular recipe (and Certain People omitted the tomatoes, as shown above), but overall they gave it a fairly good rating. Inspired by our latest family read, All-of-a-Kind Family, I served each child a small mug of soup as a "first course." It really is a delightful read. Set during the turn of the century, the author describes the lunch hour when the children come home from school:
All of Mama's family liked soup. They learned to like it because Mama always served it at the beginning of her dinner. There was a strict rule about not wasting any food in Mama's house. This rule had been made into a chant by the children: No soup, no meat. No meat, no vegetables. No vegetables, no fruit. No fruit, no penny.
In order to get the next thing, they had to give a decent crack at the first thing on the menu. (I've done this with dinner salad, too, and it works marvelously. We pretend like we're at a restaurant, and I serve the salad first. Once the plates are empty, they receive the main dish.)
So at lunch on Monday, they were hungry and would eat anything. After they had given the soup a fair shot, they were welcome to either have more soup (Bethie and Aidan took me up on this) or make a sandwich if they still had a rumbly in their tumbly. (They also wondered if they might get a penny. Or perhaps a nickel. Inflation, you know.)
The soup lasted for three days. I even had enough to bring to my kiddos' piano teacher and her husband. (Yes, they happen to be my parents.) Bethie suggested, "We should bring soup for Noni's lunch every week!" And I agreed.
You see, our whirl of activity brings us to my parents' every Wednesday for lessons. I bring school work for the kids, but one of my favorite things to do is to curl up with my Little Miss for some Beatrix Potter. Today we enjoyed The Tale of Two Bad Mice. She finds this particular story to be quite naughty. (Which means she loves it.) Often, the autumn sun pours through the family room window, casting a patch of light on the floor. I've been known to curl up right in that spot, cat-like, to soak in the warmth as the scales run up and down the piano, with Little Miss at my side. With the smell of soup warming on the stove, it's like a taste heaven.
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I'm eager to try some new soups as I develop my routine. I might stick with a favorite -- Zuppa Toscana -- this week (oh, so good), but I do love trying new recipes, too. Especially at the recommendation of others. Let me know if you have a favorite, and feel free to share a link if you have one. My tummy thanks you in advance. (And so does my mother.)