Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MANTRA

"Mama, are those real tears on your face?"

"Yes. Feel them."

I cried when I learned you were a boy.

"Mama I've never seen you cry."

Dash pats the tears into the skin under my eyes as if he's applying a very special cream.

"I had a hard day, Dash. Dance with me."

I cried when I didn't want you to come out of me.

"Mama, are you crying because you missed me today?"

"Oh Dashi,  I did miss you today. But that's not why I'm crying. Please dance with me."

I cried when I first held you.

"Well, mama, I had a hard day too."

"Tell me. What happened?"

"Well, I was barefoot."

"Yes?"

"And I stepped on this pokey thing."

I cried when I weaned you.

He shakes his head, remembering the horror of it all.

"Dash. My day was harder than yours."

I cried when you did a front flip out of your crib.

"Wait, mama, there's more. I was playing with Eric and you know that girl Rose?"

"Yes."

"Well, she told me that if I touched a certain digging toy that I would die."

I cried when I dropped you off at preschool for the first time.

"Okay. Your day was hard."

"Yes," he starts to cry. "And I don't want tomorrow to be so hard."

I cried when that little shit at school called you stupid.

I grab him by the wrists and he scampers up my body, legs monkey-wrapping around my waist. We dance, our faces smashed together, butterfly kissing, real tears mixing with real tears.

I cried when I realized my main job was to keep you alive.

"Dash, I've been told my whole life that soup can make you feel better."

We scour the kitchen and gather the scrappy, the limp, the sprouting, the freezer-burned, and the long-forgotten odds and ends.

And we make some motherfucking soup.


POTATO, TURNIP, WHITE BEAN, AND KALE SOUP
printable recipe
serves 4-6
This soup is very easy to make. You can soak beans overnight or just used any canned/jarred white beans.  Find every vegetable scrap in your fridge from old onions slices to wilted bok choy to rubbery carrots to a stump of brown fennel. All should go in. All will taste good. This is the template.

ingredients:
4 slices bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
6 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, diced
salt
4 anchovy fillets
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup white wine or Lillet Blanc
12 yukon gold or German butterball potatoes, peeled, halved, and sliced
8 white turnips, peeled, halved, and sliced
8-10 cups liquid (any combination of chicken stock, vegetable stock or water)
parmesan rind
2 cups white beans (navy, cannellini, great northern, or butter)
6 sausages (raw or pre-cooked)
1 head kale (or any hearty green like chard, spinach, bok choy, or collards)
salt
pepper
lemon juice
sherry wine vinegar
chopped parsely
parmesan
cooked bacon, chopped or crumbled

directions:
In your soup pot, fry up the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and place on paper towel. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat. Add olive oil. Over medium heat, add onions, carrots, and celery. Add big pinch of salt. Cook until tender (about 10 minutes).

While the vegetables are cooking, make a puree out of anchovies and garlic (with mortar and pestle or a chef knife on a cutting board). Add puree to vegetables. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add white wine. Cook down for a minute. Add potatoes and turnips. Add enough stock and/or water so that the vegetables are covered. Throw in a parmesan rind. Bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add white beans and cook for another 20 minutes with the lid off. You want the potatoes, turnips, and beans to start to fall apart and thicken the soup.

Fry up the sausage in a separate pan until almost cooked through. Slice and add to the soup.

Stack all the kale leaves. Slice into 1"pieces. Add to soup. Cover with lid for two minutes until kale is wilted.

Stir. Taste. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and/or sherry wine vinegar.

Serve topped with chopped parsley, parmesan, bacon, olive oil, and crunchy salt.

It's always tastier and thicker the next day. Freezes beautifully. 

42 comments:

  1. Another beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

    My little one turn 6 months old today... And I cried.

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    1. i always cry on my kids' birthdays. i wonder if it will ever stop?

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    2. No ... and I'm making soup tomorrow.

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    3. really? crap. that sucks. not the soup part. the crying part!

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  2. I cried when I learned my son was a boy. And I made some motherfucking soup today. Nice post. You're a good mom.

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    1. i wanted another girl so badly. what was i thinking? and yea for motherfucking soup!

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  3. Makes me want to make some motherfucking soup and nuzzle my son too. Love your writing.

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  4. I would read this blog greedily if it had no recipes at all. The fact that the recipes are (almost) as intriguing and satisfying as the writing is...incredible. I look forward to re-reading your post when I cook this!

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  5. Yes, I hate to admit it. Sometimes I just skim the recipes and eat up the writing instead.

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    Replies
    1. my husband won't read the recipes. he skips over them!

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  6. I love recipes like this. I hate days like that. Both I suppose both help you feel that you're alive. Thank you!

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  7. Thanks. You always hit it. I am such a fan.

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  8. I always love your writing (and recipes). Motherfucking soup to the rescue! Made me laugh (after wanting to cry a little myself).

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  9. I may be 8 months pregnant with my second son, but this made me teary eyed at work. I hope the soup helped and really there is nothing better than sweet little legs wrapped around your waist!

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    1. the soup helped a lot. and i keep making it. i'm worried i'm just going to be posting about soup for the next month! and it's 75 degrees here today.

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  10. Replies
    1. thanks, M. and you know what i think of your photos. holy shit, they're awesome.

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  11. Phyllis, this post just about destroyed me. And it also reminded me of another fiercely articulate west coast writer Knopf is publishing: Cheryl Strayed. Can I send you a copy?

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    1. thank you, pam. you know this blog wouldn't exist without you. i know you understand what i mean!

      and i love cheryl strayed's writing. crazy cool that this post made you think of her. an honor.

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  12. Love love your writing!! Sorry you had a hard day. Soup is one of the best cures, especially making it with your precious boy.

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  13. Mama's tears, mutha-fuckin soup, a little boy's love, and good writing - such a soulful read.

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  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  15. Your writing blows me away. I can't wait to make this soup!

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  16. Phyllis ... seriously. I can't get enough of your blog. Your recipes are always wonderful, no doubt, but your writing??? Your writing is inspiring and just plain incredible. LOVE.

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    1. your comment made me cry. you caught me off guard. omg. no more crying! but thank you.

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  17. You are awesome. I am just about to pick up my son from school because of some mean little kids. Your soup looks delish. Thank you!

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  18. OMG! Now I did cry!

    I'm just catching up here. Should I start at the beginning or continue reading in reverse order?

    -Alyssa

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    1. oh no. don't start at the beginning. i'd say read back a few posts and hopefully by then i'll have a new post up. parenting and crying and cooking. story of my fucking life.

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    2. Thank you for all.

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  19. Just discovered your blog. I think you are a very talented cook, photographer, mom and writer... Thanks for sharing this post, you made my day.

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    Replies
    1. wow. that's quite a list. very moving to hear. thank you.

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  20. Inspired by "The Counter Where You Cook" on FB to make this soup today. Just finished. It's cooling on the stove for reheating at dinner. Will let you know how it turned out—some of my proportions seemed off and my soup pot was too small but when I tasted it to season it tasted good! And it's my first time ever cooking with an anchovy! Or willingly putting an anchovy in/on something. But after reading about you bashing them and umami-adding them for so long, I figured it was time to make the anchovy leap!

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    1. oh, jen. love that you made this soup. please do let me know how it all worked out. what do you mean about the proportions? and perhaps i need to buy you a soup pot for your birthday. happy fucking holidays and all of that. xoxo

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  21. P, I think I totally need a bigger new soup pot. I think my two biggest pots are 8 quarts each—almost always good for a single soup recipe, but doesn't work for the soup I like to make in double batches. I do think that for however I did it, there were too many potatoes (and I left out three)—they went totally to the top of the pot above the carrot-celery base. I couldn't find white turnips (which I googled at WF, and saw they look like small beets in scale), so I bought two purple and only used one. By the proportions I meant that the potatoes and turnips overflowed and I couldn't get them all in, and it seemed like there were too many for however I was doing it, and it also seemed like a lot for the amount of white beans. But that is all BESIDE THE POINT because it was FUCKING DELICIOUS. Unanimously agreed by Adam, visiting college friend Gregg, me, and I'm sure Paco if I'd let him have any. I wish I had gotten different sausage, but WF was all "apple-chicken-smoked" bullshit. It would have been tastier to have something that really got crispy and carbonized on the outside. The bacon fat added great flavor but then I wasn't as big a fan of sprinkling the bacon on (which is rare, because what isn't improved by real bacon bits?). And I am an anchovy convert—for the moment, however, I think I may require that they be baked into the thing, not visible or smellable. I have plenty left over and last night could already tell it would just get better and better. I don't think, however, that I would characterize this as "easy to make" because it has so much prep at various points and things to cook independently of one another. No special skills called for, but lots of steps and took a couple hours. Then again, your mad skillz probably make short work of that. MOTHERFUCKING DELICIOUS. Thank you.

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  22. Though come to think of it your yellow Le Creuset doesn't look necessarily bigger than my soup pots. Clearly I am tuber-challenged.

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    1. i just measure my yellow soup pot. it's 24 cups up to the top. i don't think you're tuber-challenged. i still think i need to buy you a bigger soup pot. so glad you made the soup. you willing to test a few more recipes this spring? xoxo

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  24. Two things: one, I am getting a new soup pot, perhaps my very first (long desired) Le Creuset, definitely in yellow because it looks so damn cool on your stove; and two, I am your ready, willing, and eager servant in testing all recipes from an amateur's POV and being my usual loquacious self with feedback. Oh, and three, you and your 24 cups fucking rock.

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    1. yay to all of this. and yes. le creuset pots are genius. my yellow one is a hand-me-down from my parents. i have one that i won from that whole julie/julia contest that actually brought about my blog (i told you, right?). It's 3 times the size of my yellow one. 72 fucking cups. about to fill it with cassoulet for bella's 11th, matthew's 47th, dad's 70th. a whole mess of capricorns. it's a 5 day project.

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    2. WOW! You are a cassoulet superstar. 72 cups—one day I will get there! A five-day cooking project. Amazing. Also interesting to see the generational age spreads—11, 47, 70. We are living lives, that's for sure.

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