Let Them Eat Soup

How much soup do you need to survive a pandemic pricked with insurrection?

Let Them Eat Soup

How much soup do you need to survive a pandemic pricked with insurrection?

This week my answer to that question was six soups. Scratch that, one was a stew.  So five soups and a stew.  Each with enough servings to feed eight people. If we were only facing an insurrection, we’d invite people over to eat the soup with us. We could talk about bunkers and the 25th amendment over steaming bowls. But there is a pandemic, so my family is alone together. Without guests, the five soups and a stew will feed my family dinner and then lunch the next day. I'll need to make grilled cheese to help it stretch into lunch. My oldest doesn’t like grilled cheese, so she’ll get crackers.

I order the ingredients from Amazon. It's a condemnation and a convenience that I can get groceries delivered in the middle of an insurrection-y pandemic.  While I load my cart, I click between three tabs on my computer - my grocery list, Amazon, and Twitter. 2 lbs ground beef, seven potatoes, 12 onions, did I forget to add parmesan to the list? I did. Amazon wants to know if I’d like to buy the jar of pickles I purchased last time? I would. Twitter repeats a video of rioters beating a police officer on the steps of the Capitol repeats down my timeline. I watch. When I check out, it’s late. I tip 30% and ask for contactless delivery.

6am was the only available delivery slot, so someone shops for me while I sleep. They pick out the onions, potatoes, and carrots and feel for bruises on the apples. There is a text that night that I miss, “The fresh thyme is out of stock, will you accept a replacement of dried thyme?” Dried thyme sits between the prosciutto and celery when I gather the bags up from my porch in the morning.

An alchemist, I spread the ingredients out on the counter. I am going to turn these roots and leaves and animal into something else. What else can I change?

"Hey Google, will you place Mandolin Orange?"

"Sure, here’s Mandolin Orange."

It should have been differentIt could have been easyBut pride has a way of holding too firm to historyAnd it burns like wildfireI should have chopped all the onions at once. Given myself one heaving cry over my cutting board. Instead I prepare the ingredients for each recipe separately. Cutting, simmering and then pouring into tupperware before moving onto the next recipe. I cry six times because of the cooking and three times because of other things.

I make split pea soup with a smoked ham hock my mom brought me from a butcher over Christmas. A potato and garlic soup that smells like a restaurant in France I went to when I was younger. Once soup was something I ordered and not something I used to provide order. Best Beef Chili is next, a name I hope is true because it was the most difficult to make. I rubbed my eye after grinding the spices. So I guess I cried seven times. And then pasta fagioli. While the prosciutto crisps, I ask Google to play NPR News Now.

“Sure. Here’s NPR News Now”

But as soon as the reporter’s voice comes on I yelp,

“Hey Google, please stop.”

The prosciutto threatens to go from crisped to burnt. I scoop it out of the pan quickly and wipe the burnt bits out. The pasta fagioli is going to be okay. Okay now, butternut squash soup. It’s a vegan recipe but I saute the onions in bacon grease and I’ll add cream as it reheats after it’s time in the freezer. A bright puree of good intentions infused with a little vice. The final recipe is one I know by heart, a simple stew of carrots, potatoes, beef browned and then simmered in wine and stock. My kids will be most excited about this one. We’ll serve it with warm rolls and soft butter.

After they’ve cooled on the counter, I stack the soups (and the stew) in the freezer. It’s oddly comforting they’ll become solid in there.

While I cooked, Congress impeached the President of the United States, 3,922 people in America died of Covid-19,vaccination production and distribution continued to lag, and the FBI warned of the increasing possibility of terrorist violence across the country.

I didn’t make enough soup. This weekend I’ll make more. Maybe five stews and soup. My freezer is full, so I’ll leave my little tupperwares on empty doorsteps. A little something to help someone else get through whatever comes next.