Soup

Today I made Soup. “You mean, ‘soup’”, you say.  No.  I mean Soup.

I am not a fan of soup.  I really don’t get it.  My MIL loves soup.  Oh, I am sure she would deny it.  I am sure she doesn’t even notice.  However, she has a vast repertoire of soups, most without names, and throughout winter at least, lunch and dinner are punctuated between Grace and Main with soup.  Sometimes you even have a choice.

It isn’t that I actively don’t like soup.  (I also like my MIL!)  I just don’t get it.  It really doesn’t do anything for me.

But Soup is different entirely.

Today I made Soup.

My parents used to make Soup.  It was a wonderful weekend food (and aroma) in our home during winter.

It would start the week before.  Mum would boil a chicken.  I never liked the smell of a chicken being boiled, but my heart would start to beat a little faster whenever it happened.  To this day I get a little overly excited at the smell of boiling chicken.  A bit like Pavlov’s Dog, methinks.

A boiling chicken meant two things.

Firstly, we would be getting yummy chicken sandwiches for lunch at school this week.

Secondly, one of the large old peanut jars would soon be sitting in the fridge, filled with hot yellow liquid which would magically divide into golden, gelatinous goop and a hard white layer (later skimmed off).

And what did a jar of stock in the fridge mean?  Next weekend we would be having Soup.

Come Saturday morning, Dad would peel and dice the veges – parsnip, swede, turnip, potato, carrot, celery and onion.  He would chop up the celery leaves (oh, they smell so good!).  He would lightly fry off the onion and then all the goodies would go into the stock pot with a couple of handfuls of barley.  (If we were really lucky, sometimes he would toss in alphabet noodles for a treat.  Can you get alphabet noodles anymore?)  The stock pot would slowly simmer and the aroma would infuse the house.

Aaaah.  The smell of home in winter.

The first serving was Saturday lunch.  By the small bowl served at the start of dinner on Saturday night, the flavour was more developed.  On Sunday, it was served with bread.  And on Sunday night, it was thick and stewy as we finished it off.  Unless of course, we had eaten too much already and it needed to be drastically watered down to go the distance.

As a child, I was sick of Soup by Sunday.  (By then I would even have referred to it merely as ‘soup’).  And sadly, although I loved this Soup, I took it for granted.

As an adult it has an almost spiritual aura about it.  The smells evoke the memories of a happy home, a warmth that was not just from the stock pot, a gathering of family.  I lean over the pot to test the balance of flavours and I think of my brothers and sisters.  I wonder with love what they are doing at that moment.  I remember sharing this with them.  The steam feels like a big hug.

I am delighted today.  My husband and all my children – even the baby just starting “solids” enjoyed Soup.  Hopefully, one day, they will also lean over a pot on bubbling vegetables and think of their loved ones.

I am happy, for today I made Soup.

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