Bye, bye January. Go away, gray cloudy frosty days and leave me warm mugs of soup!
In a nonsensical formula, someone came up with the idea to name the third Monday in January, Blue Monday —the bluest, most depressing day of the year.
Yeah right? Who are they kidding? Every day in January requires sheer effort to get dressed and venture outside.
I wrangle the dogs for walks, but the truth is they’d rather not leave their comfortable spot by the wood burning fire. One wriggling further into the blankets, the other spins up onto his back, legs straight in the air, tongue drooped to its side with a…”maybe-she’ll-think-I’m-dead, not a chance I am going out in this,” expression. Perking up only when I retreat to the kitchen.
Nothing beats the winter blues of January than comfort food. Melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and caramel coffee cake, fresh baked cookies making a kitchen warm and inviting. But, nothing quite heats up a kitchen than a slow cooking soup.
The magic of soup has long been a cure for the common cold and a heart-warming pleasure on a cold day. Soup means friendship. It lift’s a melancholy mood like a warm hug. The intoxicating, soupy smell wafts through the house, bubbling away on the stove and settling in our bones while filling our bellies.
The dogs sit wide-eyed on their mats by the stove, hopeful of something dropping to the floor as I chop and dice away. I pat the meat; add butter to the pan, tossing about fresh sprigs of herbs, garlic, a squeeze of orange ensuring the right balance for a flavor-packed broth. (bones vs. meat! Salt vs.. No salt.) Chefs have long argued the difference between broth and stock?
Soup recipes have evolved and moved from country to country, like the timeless chicken noodle, which I make with a whole chicken (a recipe passed down to me in New Zealand, by my Faroese friend, who got it from her Austrian mother-in-law.) Soup is transient, and while it tastes similar, it often takes on different forms given the place it originated.
“Is there anything more comforting than a warm bowl of soup?” That’s what Sharon Hapton thought when searching for a way to give back to the community, and found the inspiration to start Soup Sisters. She had seen the results of gifting a bowl of soup and its profound comfort during difficult times. In 2009, she founded Soup Sisters a Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to providing comfort to women and children in need through the making, sharing and donating of soup to domestic abuse shelters.
Soup Sisters has twelve chapters across Canada. This organization sparked not only a movement, but also a cookbook filled with one hundred cherished recipes from chefs and home cooks entitled The Soup Sisters Cookbook. A collective melting pot of soup recipes fro across the globe, it has pride and place on my shelf.
Each recipe arranged by season, and there are also pantry and fridge-stocking tips, illustrative guides for soup preparation and recipes for homemade stocks. Soup leftovers are perfect for freezing, but in true Soup Sister form they encourage you to enjoy a bowl and pass one along to a friend.
Eva’s Heritage Borscht soup contributed by Karen Anderson, and it’s one of my time-tested fav’s. I made this for my friend when she came home from the hospital. I lovingly boiled the pork side ribs, removing the tender meat from its bone, prepped the beats, carrots, onions, green beans, cabbage, tomato juice and vinegar—fusing together all the flavors in one perfect bowl of soup. Add a swirl of sour cream and sprinkle with fresh dill for a satisfying meal on a winter day.
The cookbook includes French onion layered in cheese, a Budapest Night Owl with Hungarian paprika, sweet garlic and ‘sunchoke’, which features Jerusalem artichokes, along with the squash, pear and parsnip with ginger soup. Hopefully by the time you get finished the winter soup suggestions, spring will be here in full bloom.
Until then, wrap up warm on those dreary days and serve up soup for the family, friend or neighbor. Nothing changes a blue day sunny like a bowl of hot steamy soup.
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