I make a kiss-ass vegetable soup. My dad said so—well, no, if you knew my dad you’d know he’d never have used such language! But he loved, loved, loved the homemade vegetable soup I began making when I was ten or twelve years old. Of course, I learned how from my mother, but I added a few secret ingredients that made it all mine.
My mother was a busy woman. Like many homemakers of the day, she opted for the new convenience foods lining grocery shelves. Other than my vegetable soup, the only soups we ate when I was growing up came out of those iconic red and white cans. With the exception of Campbell’s Cream of Tomato, I wasn’t a fan. I assumed I just didn’t care for soup. I had no idea how homemade soups tasted and couldn’t imagine what it took to make them.
Until recently. A few years ago, we tried a lentil-carrot soup that’s easy and at the same time sophisticated the addition of Swiss cheese and white wine. Easy. That’s a word I’d never associated with soup. But it’s the right word. My vegetable soup is the most complicated soup I’ve ever made and that’s just because there are so many ingredients to gather, chop, and pour in the pot—not because there’s anything hard about it.
Quite accidentally, last January turned into soup month up here on the diagonal. First, it was the package of beef flavored vegetarian bouillon I received as a giveaway from a gardening blog I follow. That gift led to a delicious French onion soup, a delicacy I thought I’d given up forever when I became a non-meat eater more than twenty years ago. Then it was the potato-leek soup I’d been looking forward to ever since we planted our first leeks last spring. A look in the fridge told us we had some Swiss cheese that needed using, which turned into that delicious lentil-carrot soup.
Then the most serendipitous thing happened. We were sorting through our bookshelves (January is such a good time for decluttering and organizing) when we came upon an ancient copy of the Mother Earth News Almanac, a gift from my brother and his wife way back in 1975.
We curiously turned to a bookmarked page and were ecstatic with what we saw: our favorite easy, cheesy potato soup recipe from all those decades ago and whose loss we’d mourned for decades. The book had been tucked away in one of our moving and storage processes, and after a while we couldn’t remember where the recipe had come from in the first place. We sadly assumed it was gone forever. Naturally, the soup got made—and lovingly savored—that very day!
Lots of pumpkins line the shelves of our root cellar, calling to us to use them before they go bad. One of our favorite pumpkin recipes (aside from pumpkin pie, of course) is a cream of pumpkin soup made even better when topped with cinnamon croutons. We made that soup two separate times in January.
And then I happened upon a tomato soup recipe I wanted to try with our home canned tomatoes, so that soup made it into the January soup line-up too, paired with grilled cheese on homemade rye.
But even a small batch of soup will give our twosome two generous meals, often three. If you do the math, that means we had soup suppers every night for close to three of January’s weeks. Delicious, all. And not a vegetable soup among them!
(I’m posting these recipes as quickly as I can. If you don’t find the one you’re looking for, keep checking.)