Monday, December 30, 2013

Soup to Nuts

This may seem crazy to you but it was fun to write out (or rather, type out).

I had taken out some chicken thighs I had in the freezer thinking it might be a good idea to use them, but what would I concoct this time? I placed the thighs in the refrigerator so they would begin their thaw and got on with my day.

After church on Sunday, as my daughter and I were headed for brunch I declared, we must stop at the market so I can get some fresh ingredient for a nice batch of homemade soup – and that is what the chicken that began its defrost the afternoon before would be used for.

Later in the day, I began with the mise en place. I carefully washed the carrots and celery and chopped them, along with the onions for the mirepoix. I chopped up some garlic, pulled out the spices I planned to use and then, realized that I was lax in my inventory knowledge while at the market earlier that day. Turns out, I needed to make another trip as I had an insufficient supply of stock.

I carefully contained what I had prepared thus far and headed out for another go at the market. As I walked through the fresh produce aisle en route to my destination, I spotted some butternut squash, not in my original plan for this soup but it struck my eye and all of a sudden, there was a flavor in my mind that I wanted and so I crabbed the package of pre-cut (time saver) butternut squash then headed for the stock and found my way back home.

And so it was time to construct the soup. The simple anticipation of wondrous aromas was enough for me to imagine them, and almost sense them as if they already existed. I put a little oil in the dutch oven and let it heat; I added some cumin seed to get it toasting and begin the aromatherapy.

I seasoned the chicken pieces, then placed them in the pot to get them browning. I removed them after they were sufficiently browned and added a touch more oil and a little butter and then, the mirepoix. I seasoned with salt and pepper then added some curry powder and a few bay leaves giving it all a good stir and then let them sweat it out for a bit but not before adding some garlic to the mix. The aromas were for real by now and I knew, it would only get better from here.

I think we all have this therapeutic perception about eating soup but form me at least, I find it at least equally, if not more so, therapeutic to make one; it’s the whole idea of building it – constructing it, then, just letting it be for a while, so everything becomes part of the whole.

I gave another stir, then added the chicken pieces back in and the cubes of butternut squash and then, a nice layer of salt and pepper before adding the stock and giving a little stir before popping the lid back on the pot and letting time take over for a while.

After about an hour and a half, I added some grated potato to the mix. I know, sounds odd right? It’s one of many different ways one can thicken a soup – I hadn't used this method in the past so I wanted to give it a go, so I did. About 30 minutes later or so, I retrieved so of the butternut squash and carrots and a smidge of the soup and carefully pureed them before adding them back for another stir and the final 20-30 minutes or so.

When the time arrived, I cooked up some egg noodles (at the suggestion of my daughter) and soon after, we began to eat – and it was bliss. Everything from the start harmonized into a joyful moment in time that I could share with my child. Hours later, we still enjoyed the lingering aromas.

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