Wednesday, October 10, 2012

{Soup Time}

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.

* * * * * * *

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.)
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  1. I've never been let down by a good Tortilla Soup ;) Just let them know that it's Uncle Johnny's favorite and I'm sure that will up the enthusiasm.

    1. Definitely adding it to the list! And yes -- an Uncle Johnny recommendation is sure to be a hit :).

  2. We LOVE soup too! I call it, "the one pot wonder" because you can get your protein and vegetables all in one shot. And, if you make your own stock, nourishment abounds! Less dishes, maximum efficiency. A couple of years ago I wanted to make a minnestrone soup, so I googled recipes. In reading about minnestrone, I learned that it actually means "Big Soup" in Italian. So, we adopted that name and every season I make up a huge pot of "Big Soup". Oh, and in our family, bread and crackers are the preferred utensil for soup consumption. :o) ~Sharon

    1. "The one pot wonder!" I love it -- so very true :). And I love the "Big Soup" meaning, too. So fun to hear about family traditions and favorites. Thanks for sharing, Sharon!

  3. Num! I love soup--especially when it gets a little breezey and a tad cooler down here in Florida. It's hard to find a soup that is filling enough to be a main course, but Potato Leek soup ( has fit the bill for us. We add a few crushed up crackers before serving to thicken it up. Also, I like a good, but not too spicy chili with cornbread to soak up the remnant. It's mmm, mmm good (:

    1. Mmmmm . . . that sounds delicious! I'll have to check it out! And I have to tell you that I was inspired by your cornbread suggestion and made some tonight to go with our bean soup :). Yum! Thanks, Chanda!



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