Monday, February 4, 2013

Soup for the spirit

EASY MINESTRONE (wheat-free)

One tetra box of chicken stock
1 cooked boneless chicken breast, diced
2 and 1/2 to 3 cups water (3 if using celery)
1 minced onion
1/4 diced turnip
1 stalk celery, diced fine (optional)
3 diced carrots
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 to 2 Tbsp summer savory
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 to 2/3 can (5.5 oz) your favorite tomato paste
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Soup in the process of cooking vegetables.
It's so good on a wintry day.

Put the stock and water in a large (4L) pot with the chicken, onion, and turnip (and celery if you wish) and bring to boil. Lower heat to medium and boil uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes. 

Add carrots, potatoes, summer savory and pepper and continue boiling for another 20 to 30 minutes to meld the flavors together. 

Then add tomato paste and ginger, bring to the boil and reduce heat. Simmer for about 2 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently so the broth won't stick to the pot. The soup will be thick, something like the consistency of mulligatawny (or perhaps Irish Stew). However, the taste is like minestrone - without the seeds. Serve alone or with garlic bread.

When I awoke this morning and looked outside to see a snowstorm in progress, I knew today would be a "soup day." I'd seen ingredients last night in the fridge, so I decided to put my creative cap on at around 11:30 this morning. The result was a delicious minestrone-chicken-vegetable soup that stuck to our ribs and hit that "it's cold outside, let's hunker down" spot. My impromptu recipe appears above. It turned out better than I thought it would with no recipe to guide me.

One of the bonuses to soup in the winter is the way it helps with the humidity level inside the house, easing coughs and getting rid of that annoying prickling feeling inside the nostrils. 

A nice thick soup is "comfort food" too. It warms the insides. 

When the cold winds of discouragement whip all around me, when I just want to pull the covers up around my head and tune the world out, that's when I look for a good helping of soup for the spirit. I start to remember all the good things, all the miracles that have happened in my life, all the blessings I've been given. I surround myself with wholesome, hearty helpings of wonderful, uplifting music and the caring company of true friends. These things feed my spirit - they make me feel warm and cared for inside, grateful for even the smallest things and even more grateful for the big things. 

I let that simmer. I linger over the good feelings they give me. I dwell on those great experiences and as I do, more bubble up to the surface. And when the "soup" is just right, when the goodness of those gifts lends flavor to all the other things in my life which might be somewhat bland, I allow myself the joy of letting it feed my innermost being. 

It's okay. That's what soup for the spirit is for. 

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