I’ve been making soup. It was trend first inspired by the stunning variety of colorful squash this time of year, which quickly transformed into a sort of self-imposed, internally competitive, frugal, spending game. They are gargantuan, army-feeding pots of soup, on which I exist throughout the entire week. There has been butternut squash soup, parsnip soup, carrot soup, and basically anything else I can puree with my nifty, new emersion blender. Basically, give me a root or squash and I will emersion blend the bejesus out of it.
Last week, as I entered the automatic grocery store doors, with my environmentally friendly shopping bag slung from the nook of arm, and the wheels of my soup possessed brain turning, I saw the massive pile of yams being highlighted under glistening sale sign. Clearly, the grocery store gods were helping me on my mission. Without another thought I put five kitten-sized yams in my sack and headed for check-out. Thus far, I’d been doing so well with my spending challenge and making-due with minimal ingredient buying, that I decided I needn’t buy anything else on that trip, but would simply make due with whatever my cupboard contained.
I opened the cupboard. Scanning its contents, I could see oatmeal, onions, garlic, red pepper, cooking sherry, vinegar, dried figs, cinnamon, three tootsie rolls, and six maple candies.
I took out my soup pot and began sautéing the onions and garlic, chewing on a tootsie roll while determining what to do next. I opened the wrapper of a maple candy and was about to pop that in my mouth as well, when impulse seized me and I threw it into my pan. Chink. The hard sugar hit the pot and slowly melted while its aroma enhanced the sweetness of the onion. Naturally, I unwrapped and threw in the remaining candies. “Heck,” I thought, “While I’m cleaning the pantry, I’ll add some red pepper and cinnamon too.”
Once the yams, liquids and such had been added to the mix, I waited for them to become tender and pulverizable. Yes, pulverizable. I then emersion blended to my heart’s content and finished the soup off with a garnish of dried figs.
Somehow (magically), it’s the best soup I’ve made so far. It was balanced with sweetness and spice, had depth and a pleasant silky texture. I believe there are important lessons to be learned from this experience. First, good things happen when you don’t take yourself too seriously in the kitchen, and play instead. Second (and most importantly) candy is always, always a positive addition to any well-rounded meal.