Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Soup Days

Soup is the simple winter meal from days at Papa and Grandma's house. It is the sign of a quiet and thoughtful day. Soup means no racing to the store and back for ingredients. Soup means time at home. Mom's potato soup on Fridays as a child meant it was Dad's night to work late. (Soup can "keep.") Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup with Rice means a school musical in the first grade. Stone Soup is later in elementary school and laughing with my friends on the library carpet. Campbell's chicken and stars soup means pneumonia in the fifth grade and blearily seeing Mom hovering over my sick-bed on the couch. Bubbling red/purple cabbage soup is the eighth grade and we are all gagging around the table as we tease Dad about his newest recipe. Mom forced me to eat vegetable soup in the days following my friend Sommer's death my senior year of high school. "You haven't eaten in days, Vally. You need something. At least drink some of the broth." Ramen-style chicken-mushroom soup is the taste of loneliness: It is my freshman year of college and not yet having friends to eat with in the cafeteria. After we begged her to eat something--"anything"--the day Papa died, Grandma requested plain chicken broth with crackers. "I bet you never thought," she dryly murmured to my younger brother as we sat beside her at her lunch table in the rest home that day, "that you would be invited over to Grandma's and not be offered anything to eat." When I restarted grad school in 2002, friends from my program gave me belly laughs and tough love and a recipe for tomato soup made from ketchup packets. Tomato soup today means I'm trying once more to learn to love it. Maybe if I add more basil, maybe if I add mozzarella.... To have a bowl of vegetable soup before me makes me happy. To have a pot of vegetable soup simmering on my stove makes me content. Homemade chicken noodle soup means I am 25 and sitting with my newly-ex-boyfriend in my first apartment, hoping that this bowl of broth and carrots and mushrooms will make him love me as-more-than-just-friends once again. Asian chicken soup with greens means I am in the city working as a cook and had time between orders today to jot down a recipe to try at home. Tortilla soup and egg drop soup mean I am in my 30s and dating Mike now. Lasagna soup was one of the bright spots in 2011. Dill pickle soup is my friend Tom and his goodness and kindness. Seinfeld's "No soup for you!" gets shouted in my home whenever we face a disappointment. Tonight's vegetable soup means that I have today off from work and thus will get to enjoy a simple supper of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches with now-husband Mike. It means that life is good. It means that despite all the craziness and coldness out there in the world, there is still and always warmth in my home and love in my heart and everything is okay. 
 

11 comments:

Carol said...

My DH makes great soup. You will have to drop in on Jean and have some. She will be happy to share, we always give her too much!

Val said...

A soup supper with Jean would be fun. :) (With a side of her beloved pierogies, right?) :)

Cindy said...

Val I have never read anything so special before!! What a memory you have!!We here in the South don't eat soup like you do up North.
But yesterday my tummy was icky and I had my standby..Chicken Noodle soup and now all better!! Love all the neat recipes you mentioned..oh my pickle soup?...lol

Val are y'all in the path of Irene? If so..let us know where you head...and I will be praying for you!!!!

Hugs Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gingham

Kim said...

I am new to your blog and I have to tell you that this was a beautiful post and made me smile the whole way through. I will be thinking of soup differently now :)

Crystal Escobar said...

That was absolutely beautiful! What a great writer you are!

Val said...

Cindy, we are safe here, thank you. :) The dill pickle soup is actually a chicken soup with slices of dill (and potatoes and carrots and whatever else)in the broth. :) It is a Polish recipe, as I understand it.

Kim and Crystal, thank you both so much. :) I enjoy writing so much more when I know people are really reading. :)

Have a good weekend!

CACHANILLA73 said...

Beautiful post Val... I do believe we can go back in time with a sip from a drink or soup, or when we have a meal that brings back memories of long gone loved ones.
Thanks for visiting my now "owl free blog" ;)....

Cotty

Val said...

Thank you, Cotty. :)

Rose Cottage by the Lake said...

Dear Val,
What a beautiful post sweetie! You are truly a gifted writer!!!! I love soup and enjoyed reading the memories associated with your soup eating! You are a dear!

I am enjoying catching up on your lovely posts! I hope things are going better for you! You are in my prayers!

Love you, Paula

liz said...

What a wonderful post.

Val said...

Thank you, Paula and Liz. :)