There seem to be so many good times to make soup. How do I choose?
Stop your circular inner dialogue. Winter has come, FOR REAL. At least in Northern California it has. Brutal, unpredictable, equal opportunity mayhem-maker, fire, has burned through my community. As of this moment, 36 people are reported dead. 3,500 structures have burned to the ground. Now would be a best time to make soup.
The community has come out with so much loving support, and at least we don’t also have to worry about nuclear war—oh, wait.
How this brain-parasite-level stupid man, garnished with that matted, fecal wig, became our president is a historical phenomena. He is trapdoor crazy, and everyone around him is looking for a lever to pull. What is this North Korea? Pull the LEVER!
This fire underscores why we need a normal President. Even normal-bad would be better. Life will bring tragedy and suffering. Do we really want to pool our money (taxes) and contract Tacky Satan to create extra problems.
While I was washing the ashes* off my window sills, Kim Jong-Un mentions that Trump has “lit the wick of war.” That can’t be good.
But, of course Trump did. He is the shitty, mascara-stained, bic lighter of despair.
I admit, even though I’m scared, and angry as hell at our Dotard, for fanning these flames, I have a hard time taking KJU seriously. Saying things like, lit the wick of . . . anything, honestly—it undermines the strength of a message.
I don’t doubt him. I just feel like he’s in a tattered, velvet Napoleon costume, drinking Earl Grey tea and scotch out of dented, brass Renaissance Fair goblets—not scotch in the tea—double fisted.
There he is in his cobweb-filled dressing room. Looking down at his tarnished rings—which will never come off because of his swollen, Miss Havisham fingers. Youth and Beauty! You heartless mistresses!
His vintage military tunic seam-split down the back—burst to the waist. He covers the tear with a velvet Opera Cape. But the cape is short, and he catches a flash of slick, white, back-bulge in the mirror. He considers going on a 1910s style reduction diet of gelatins and broths. Then he screams, MY EMPEROR OUTFIT WILL FIT ME IF I HAVE TO DIE OF STARVATION FIRST!
His ample mid-section rumbles and he whispers, But first . . . one last special-meal . . .
KJU snaps his head back and yells at the ceiling: Light the wick of dinner!!
KJU swivels his 1950s-television-sized head toward once gilded, now ramshackle, double doors. He strikes a tiny silver bell with a minuscule silver mallet. The doors burst open and Vladimir Putin emerges, dressed as Indiana Jones—holding a silver tray stacked high with grilled cheese sandwiches.
—and what goes better with grilled cheese than soup? Nothing. Time to hone your soup making skills. You’re gonna need them, because soon, you could be boiling up old sneakers and car parts. The more you experiment now, with layering and deepening broth flavors, the better off you’ll be when you are walking down The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.
*Please know how grateful I am to get to wash the ash off my windowsills. I still have windowsills—and my family. We are safe and housed. My heart breaks for so many in my community who, tonight, face the greatest loss. Take my gallows humor with a grain of salt (actually, I always recommend more than a grain of salt, minimum 1/4 tsp). I manage bad times with humor. Look away if my freakish behavior disturbs you.
Homemade Soup Heals
- 2 1/2 pounds onions, shallots (any and/or all colors)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-5 cloves garlic
- 3 pounds chicken
- 1 small butternut or other winter squash
- 2-3 medium carrots
- 1 bunch chard, kale, or collard greens
- 1 bunch fresh, Italian parsley
- 1 cup white wine--OPTIONAL. Incidentally, almost everything in the world is optional.
- 2-4 pounds mixed, favorite vegetables like:
- sweet peppers
- summer squash
- Chicken stock, broth, or 2-3 tablespoons prepared buillon in water. I used Better Than Bouillon because I am out of stock/broth.
- 1/4-1 cup prepared salsa
- 1-2 tablespoons Black Bean Garlic paste. This is a flavoring STAPLE in my cooking.
- 1-2 tablespoon vietnamese style prepared chili paste. Another flavor STAPLE in my cooking.
- 1/2-1 cup mixed, fresh herbs: Oregano, Sage, Thyme, Marjoram, basil, rosemary, sage
- 2-3 teaspoons fresh, grated turmeric, or 1-2 teaspoons dried, ground turmeric
- 2 or more tablespoons tamari
Chop onions into dime sized pieces. Shallots will turn out a bit smaller and in strips or rings.
Peel and chop garlic.
Prepare and chop all ingredients before cooking. I like to chop vegetables into a variety of shapes and sizes, but no mincing and none bigger than a bite.
Chop the Italian parsley coarsely. Add half to the faster cooking vegetables. Save the other half to add just at the end of cooking, when you turn off the flame. Save another tablespoon to garnish each serving.
Chop fresh herbs coarsely. Use dried herbs if you don't have fresh. Generally, use less dried herb than fresh. My favorite herbs for a soup like this: Marjoram, Oregano, chives, thyme, rosemary (not too much), sage, basil, garlic chives.
Separate hard/dense, slow cooking vegetables from fast cooking vegetables. For example: Carrots, butternut squash, potatoes, mature green beans or fave beans in one bowl. Celery, greens, mushrooms, tomatoes in another.
Prepare chicken. I use a whole chicken. Sometimes I have the butcher break it down for me, but usually I get an organic chicken at Trader Joe's and the lady at the samples table will NEVER chop up your chicken for you there.
If I don't use a whole chicken, I use skin-on, bone-in thighs. I remove about half the skin from each thigh. I chop each thigh, through the bone, into halves or thirds. This frees the marrow. It also can create a few sharp little bone shards. Discard those, or remove them daintily into your napkin at the table as you would salmon bones. I perform the same machete-ing of parts if I use a whole chicken. All big bones get chopped in two. This is a short cut to enriching your soup with bone broth.
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large soup pot. Heat over medium-high for a minute or so.
Add chopped onions and shallots. Stir, cooking until translucent and beginning to brown. Let the onions brown, not blacken. Don't worry if the bottom of the pan turns light brown to brown.
Add chopped garlic. Stir and cook about a minute. Don't burn the garlic--soup could become bitter, like an acrid ex-lover. Is that what you want?
Add the chicken hunks. They might brown a little before releasing liquid and deglazing the pan. If not, don't worry. Cook for a few minutes.
Add the wine and really scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze.
Add the harder vegetables: winter squash, carrots etc...
Add stock, broth or water with bullion to cover.
Add 1/4-1 cup favorite salsa (use whatever you have leftover in your fridge. You save those little take out salsas right? Use those too.)
Add 1-2 tablespoons black bean garlic paste.
Add 1-2 tablespoons vietnamese chili paste. You can always add more later.
Get the soup boiling, then lower heat to medium and simmer 20 minutes.
Add soft vegetables and fresh herbs.
Let the soup cook at a vigorous simmer another 30-45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Check that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan/burning. If it's too brothy, cook uncovered to reduce.
Correct liquid levels by adding water or stock. You want your veggies and chicken submerged. Don't boil up a casserole. Be careful with bullion spiked liquid. It can get salty, fast.
Cool and taste a little of the broth. Does it need salt, pepper, more chili sauce, tamari, bean paste??? Season to taste.
Add remaining chopped parsley. Remove from heat.
ADD INS: Sometimes I stir a few tablespoons butter or sour cream into a pot of soup, especially in winter. If I don't add dairy, I always squeeze at least 1 lime into the broth to finish.
Serve with bread, croutons, grilled cheese sandwiches, tortillas, naan, or a toasted loofah.