Sunday, October 23, 2011

Soup for the Soul

Life isn't fair.  I learned this in college when I stayed up all night studying for an exam and got a "B" while my room mate spent the same night at a bar with her boyfriend and got an "A", but I've had it easy.  That life isn't fair is harder to reconcile when a colleague retires from a lifetime of work and within 6 months his wife is dead from a rare brain tumor.  Or when an innocent child struggles with a debilitating illness.  Or when clean living yields breast cancer and leaves in it's wake a motherless family.   It simply, fundamentally, isn't fair.   Life rewards and punishes with a whim and caprice that is breathtaking in its randomness.  And God, if there is a god, doesn't seem to give a rat's ass.  I have a hard time with that. 

I envy those who can cling to their faith in the face of adversity.  I wish that I could turn to prayer to find comfort and solace and know that at the end of the day it all makes sense and that it will all be alright.  I can not.  At the end of the day, after all of the prayers, rosaries, or novenas, I'm left only with the realization that life is not fair and that there's not a damn thing that I can do about it.  Except for one thing.  I can cook.  If I can't make things better, and God appears to choose not to, then at least I can cook.  I make soup or sauce or supper and try to make sure that when people I know suffer they don't do so alone and they don't do so hungry.   Life may be nasty, brutish, and short, but it need not be unkind.


1.  Gently saute in olive oil a finely diced mire poix, i.e. a fine dice of one medium-sized onion, about 3 large carrots, and 2 celery stalks.  Saute over low heat until just tender--about 10 minutes.

2.  Add approximately 6 cups of water.

3.  Add 1 lb of washed lentils, and one hammock or ham bone for lentil soup; OR

4.  Add l lb of dried peas and one hammock or ham bone for split pea soup; OR

5.  Add a chicken carcass for chicken soup; OR

6.  Add cabbage, tomatoes, spinach, and green beans for vegetable soup; OR

7.  Substitute beef broth for the water and add beets and cabbage for borscht.

8.  The possibilities are endless--much like the endless ways that life isn't fair.

9.  Simmer on the lowest possible heat for about an hour and half.  Season with salt and pepper.

10.  Cool;  remove any bones; leave the meat.

11.  Pour it into a Tupperware container and take it to someone who needs it.  And if they are really hurting, don't give a second thought to whether you get your container back.

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