After the holidays, when the bitterness of winter sets in, I crave one dish above all others: soup. After a long day at work, while driving home in the silence of a frigid snowy evening, all I think about is putting on my flannel pj’s and curling up on the couch with a nice toasty bowl of soup. That first sip melts away the iciness of the day and warms my weary bones.
I love the versatility of soup, how it can be rich or light, brothy or creamy, delicate or robust. What I’ve discovered about soup is that it all depends on the recipe. Some are so simple they need only five ingredients and a 25-minute simmer. Others, if done properly, can take three to four days. But that’s just the beginning. There are winter soups, summer soups, chilled soups, soups rumored to cure hangovers or increase fertility, and, of course, soups that can help you shed those dreaded holiday pounds.
Above all, though, soup consistently seems to do one thing. It reminds us of home. I realized this while collecting the recipes in this month’s From Plate to Palate. All the contributors in their pieces this month mention, in some way, home—by name or concept. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Soup reminds us of our childhoods, our families. Many of the meals I remember from my childhood center around soup. I remember sharing a can of Campbell’s Bean and Bacon soup with my Grandfather when I was six; it was the only meal I ever ate alone with him. We didn’t talk, but we nodded and slurped our way through our bowls. From that moment on, I became a sucker for bean soups. And when my dad would come home, discouraged by the economy and with his construction business, the cupboards may have seemed bare, but there was always tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches to fill our tummies and soothe our worries.
Soups are hearty and homey.
To share their soup stories and recipes, I welcome several fantastic cooks. Rebecca Hart conquers a rogue and dishes out a lovely Mushroom and Hazelnut Soup. Karen Babine builds upon her mom’s Tomato Soup recipe and recreates the feeling of home. In her piece, Sarah Lenz shows us just how easy it is to home-make our own noodles for the ever-comforting Chicken Noodle Soup. Finally, Kathryn Miles recounts her family lineage and shares with us the melting pot of Peas in a Potla. May these recipes warm your winter days and fill them with the memories of home.