I’m a recovering picky eater. I used to be embarrassed about it, but there is a clear upside. In my life, I’m constantly meeting foods for the first time and falling head over heels in love with things that are very accessible and easy to make. A few summers ago it was carrots. Before that it was turnips. And the prince of them all is *`~*`~ soup *`~*`~
The first soup I wasn’t afraid of was Butternut Squash – sweet and hearty, and ground in an immersion blender so you can’t really see anything scary that might be in it. I was curious about French Onion Soup, but now, I can’t even remember whether or not I tried it before I became a vegetarian. My sister Jenna makes a mean corn chowder and bullied me into trying it last summer, when I was having a flare up of my old picky ways.
But the one that really does it for me is a simple, homemade, mixed veggie and bean situation.
I chop up carrots, onions, celery, and a red bell pepper, along with minced garlic. A lot of people don’t care for red bell peppers – just the other day I had a friend over for a bowl of this exact soup, and when I took our dishes to the sink there was a little pile of bell pepper bits at the bottom of her bowl. I might include ginger if I have it, or sometimes some hot pepper if the mood is right. All of this goes into the dutch oven that my friend Gina gave me before she moved back to California, with already heated up olive oil. One time, I added a whole can of sweet corn and had a crunchy, sweet soup for the rest of the week.
I like to put white beans in my soup, too. This winter I’ve forgotten to pick them up at the store with some regularity, then texting my neighbors group chat to see if anyone has a can they can spare. The very best are Cannelloni beans, but I also like Great Northern. The soup is good without them, but not as filling, so I find myself left with two servings instead of four.
For spices, I always do salt and pepper, curry powder, and cinnamon. Sometimes I add more or less, and sometimes I’ll also add an oregano or a cumin. These experiments don’t always go over super well – I remember last winter I made a big batch of soup that was an undeniable flop. I had offered some to my roommate and her partner at the time before leaving the house to meet friends, and when I got home, the same amount of soup remained in the pot, takeout leftovers in the fridge. The remains of this failed attempt lived in my fridge for more than five weeks.
For bread, I usually go with a bun instead of a baguette, because I don’t want to do any slicing, and I drizzle it with olive oil instead of butter. I like to scoop up veggies into the hollowed out moments of gluten.
Soup is the best leftovers. Soup is a food snuggie – having some in the fridge feels like me from three days ago reaching forward to give me in the present a big hug. “I cooked for you,” I’m saying to my future self. “I’ve got your back.”