Barely two weeks ago, I used the following phrases to describe soup: “vegetables boiled to death,” “assaulted with too much cream,” “whatever healthy things in there cannot be tasted,” and even “what must have been a practical joke” about an especially awful one I’d ordered recently. I admitted that I found soup boring, and my relationship to it has been on especially unstable terms this year after repeated disappointments.
According to my calendar — the one I believe I just looked at for the first time since last September, when someone made my life go all date- and timeless — the Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day this year. In New York at least, the Lunar New Year is an excuse to eat egregious amounts of fried rice, spare ribs and to make your way through Chinatown streets over piles of strewn red paper* from firecrackers. Valentine’s Day, however, is dominated by French food because what could be more romantic than copious amounts of wine, butter, cheese, steak and chocolate?
So here’s a little eating-out confession: When we go out to restaurants, no matter how old-school posh or hot-new-It-chef-on-a-grungy-block, I rarely find myself moved to exclamation points over a piece of steak or a pasta dish; instead, it most of my ooh-ing and aah-ing is formed over the earnest piles of beans and grains and greens that form a bed for the main attraction. I’m always applauding the way a chef managed to get such flavorful beans, grains and even unloved greens, cooked so perfectly that I clean them out long before I stick my fork into the duck breast. I guess what I am trying to say is: A lot of people cook steak well. Making kale and wheat germ taste like nirvana itself is what really blows my mind.
“So it’s a pie?”
“Well, it’s pie-like. I mean, it has a bottom crust and a top crust and it is filled with stuff. So yeah, pie.”
“No, we have had barley sitting in the pantry for like a year so we’re going to eat that first.”
“And it has mushrooms and ricotta in it!”
“Ew, no. It’s a vegetarian Thanksgiving entree.”
“Can we have bacon on the side?”
Seeing as my parents were spending the afternoon at my apartment on Sunday so I could pilfer content for my site from their recipe box, I figured the least I could do was make them some lunch. And although it is not quite soup weather yet, I have not been able to get my mind off of a recipe I read recently, so soup it was.