I find it funny now — what with my obvious fascination with stirring up soups aplenty — that a couple years ago I didn’t care for them at all. Everything about the taste of vegetables boiled in flavored water until their structures compromised made my stomach turn and to this day, even the liveliest minestrone invokes a bad memory of flavor-sapped herbs and formless noodles. Even those that came close to passing muster were so laden with salt, I’d find myself aching for a glass of water after a bowl of something that was supposed to be soothing.
I think the turning point came with the Cuisinart Immersion Blender gift from our wedding registry. Nobody better describes my affection for it than Julie Powell: “Have I mentioned to you that I love love love my handy-dandy cuisinart wand? I love it the way other women love their vibrators.”
In one minute flat, it converts everything in the pot into a velvety consommé, bridging the disparity between ingredients (“No! I don’t want to hang out with the icky squash!” whines the orange-fleshed potato) like a mother insisting her children play nicely together. No more alarming boiled vegetable flavor, no more awkward, thin spaces between ingredients, with each spoonful the same as the last, I find these soups contemplative; a calm brought on by the knowledge that every spoonful will taste the same as the one before.
The pistou, which I was as skeptical of as I had been of the lettuce pesto, really brightened up the fall flavor and color with some spring, kind of like eating an orange soup on an 80-degree September day.