The Winter of Our Soup
Once I ate soup for an entire month. Not the same kind of soup for a whole month, this wasn’t a crazy weight loss diet or something, it was different soups almost every day. And, actually it wasn’t strictly every day; we took a break on the weekends here and there. And there wasn’t any grand reason to eat soup other than the fact that we thought it would be fun.
It was my husband, Sergio’s idea. He likes these sorts of stints - like the time he ate a veggie burger every day for 31 days (31veggieburgers.blogspot.com). He also isn’t too keen on winter - cold weather, snow, the sun that sets at 4:45, all the darkness. He grew up where it’s temperate, and though he’s been in the Midwest for a long time and has endured several particularly bad winters, I think he has still never given up the notion that it just should never be this cold.
So, a few years ago, just after New Years, when he was grumpy about the cold, he decided he had a hankering for soup and figured that would warm him up. He got the idea that it would be fun to eat it every single day. I thought he was crazy at first, but he convinced me. Honestly, he didn’t have to try very hard to convince me. The truth is I love soup. The ease of the slow cooker, the one pot meals. And, in winter it’s a great way to prepare the food I preserved during the growing season. A freezer full of frozen greens and peppers, mason jars full of corn and tomatoes, all perfect for soups. A bowl, a spoon, a crusty bread, and, voila, dinner’s done.
Having decided to eat soup for a month, we sat down with some recipes and made some plans. On a regular basis, we make a lot of soups and stews that are terribly similar and formulaic. Squash, Kale, and White Bean Stew or Spicy White Bean, Sweet Potato and Collard Stew. Always orange vegetable + green leaf + legume. We knew w didn’t want to eat THAT for a month, so we attempted to diversify our repertoire with a few new and different soups.
We pored over our cookbooks, namely Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, and selected a few options for the next few days. We started with something familiar - Lentil Soup with Ribbons of Kale (It has carrots in it, by the way.) - using the formula we know so well: orange vegetable, green leaf, legume. We quickly moved on to new and different things. Vegetarian Pozolé, Two Mushroom and Barley Soup, Corn Chowder, Moroccan- Inspired Lentil and Chickpea Soup with Harissa, Pesto-Infused White Bean and Sundried Tomato Stew (using the pesto I’d made and the tomatoes I’d dried during the previous summer), just to name a few.
We had chunky soups and stews, two different chilis, smooth pureed soups, soups with a tomato base and soups without, each one different, all of them vegan, and most of them as locally sourced as possible. Thank goodness for the Badseed Winter Market where we boosted our ingredient list for our month of soups. It’s hard to beat an organic farmers’ market that is open during the cold months of January and February.
Proudly, we repeated only one soup - the Creamy Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous. And, surprisingly, I didn’t tire of soup. We changed up our menus on the weekends, which I think helped, but during the week, the crockpot and I got nice and cozy as we ate soup night after night after night.
Sergio was right - all that soup did warm us up that winter, just as soup often does. One year - long before our month of soups - Sergio decided to order a new winter coat in an attempt to brace himself for another set of cold, dark, months. I remember the day his coat came in the mail. I was fixing Red Bean and Quinoa Chili in the kitchen while he was in the other room opening his package. He came into the kitchen wearing his new coat and confirmed that it will be just the thing he needs to keep him warm; with a new boldness towards the cold weather that he typically abhors, he asserted, “Winter’s got nothing on me.” With two heaping bowls of my piping hot chili, I heartily agreed.