It is that time of year again as I trot off to the vegetable stands and market gardens nearby to purchase fresh local vegetables, herbs, jam, jellies and honey. I can smell the dill weed, pungent yet distinct, taste the lemon flavored honey and imagine the wild blueberries falling off my crisp toast at breakfast. I am most exuberant about preparing the soup recipes that have been handed down for generations and savored by family members and friends for,,,,,,well forever . My favorite is borscht (beet soup) and my spouse loves cabbage soup. I am sure he has reminded my at least three times to make sure I purchase at the very least three heads of cabbage. I remind him at least three times that I will be sure to remember, as I do every year. The thought brings a smile to my eyes and lifts the creases in my cheeks.
Soup is prepared in well, a soup pot of course. We all seem to have a favorite, either passed down like the recipe itself or newly purchased awaiting the flavors to become locked into the energy of the pot while steaming and boiling and simmering. The stock or base is the foundation upon which the soup is built. Whether vegetable, chicken, beef, low sodium or gluten-free, the success or failure of the recipe depends on the strength of the foundation. All the added ingredients come next. Various vegetables, herbs, seasonings, meats or not, rice or pasta, everyone contributes something to the initial stock. Every added ingredient a different color, flavor, texture, shape and size. Every ingredient adding a distinct flavor to the soup changing it in some unique way with hints of spicy warmth, belly deep laughter, wrinkles and baby soft cheeks.
The soup pot is laid upon the table with bowls and spoons, a ladle alongside the crusty fresh bread and butter or some herb encrusted soda crackers. These are the simple ingredients that, when combined, and touch our taste-buds as we inhale the aroma of the soup, trigger the memories stored in our most sacred spaces. Everyone gathers excited to once again sample and savor the beautiful flavors and colors of the generational soup prepared lovingly from memory and memories resurrected once again, another year in another time.
“Soup is a lot like family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach its full flavor.”- Marge Kennedy
Everyone around the table is not likely to remember from year to year whether the soup was prepared in the exact same way or tastes exactly the same. It is not important to remind who made it best. What matters is the gathering. The gathering of young and old, the stories with all the twists and turns, the respect and love and yes, sometimes tolerance for those gathered at the table. It is the thanks we give for the bounty we receive and the love we feel as we sip on the foundations of soup and family. It is knowing that love and joy are felt because of the simple life ingredients, picked from the garden of our souls, simmered in the soup pot we call family, where hopefully, everyone can and will sing their own song, sharing their life passions and stories with the spices of their own choosing that defines the essence of their souls. Individuals adding something of themselves to enhance the flavor simmering in the soup pot. Hopefully when savored those gathered will be able to identify who brought what to the mix and celebrate the uniqueness of each persons song. Soup. Simply natural, healthy, nourishing and beautiful.
“Everyday you are stirring the pot of life and the most important ingredient you can put into your pot is you. Your love, optimism, trust, vision, communication, authenticity, appreciation and passion make life delicious and the relationships you create at work and at home determine the substance and quality of your soup.”- Soup by Jon Gordon