By Sue Murphy
I got my flu shot last week, the new one configured with the latest prediction of which flu bug is headed this direction. Flu meteorology – you have to hope the CDC knows what it’s doing or I could have several days of head-banging misery in my future. Amazingly, the health gurus have never come up with a cold vaccine. You’d think that would be easier, wouldn’t you? I mean, the common cold is…well, common, and yet, the only things we have in our arsenal against it are weapons to manage the collateral damage once it has laid siege to our bodies.
I don’t know how things go at your house, but it’s a long-standing tradition in my family that someone will be sick over the holidays. It never fails. The car pulls in the driveway and someone starts sneezing…or worse. This past Easter we were treated to a 10-day tag-team viral extravaganza. So, while I’m gather- ing goodies for this upcoming holiday season, I’ll throw in decongestant, antihistamine and cough suppressant, along with a hefty supply of tissues and aspirin and juice.
Oh, and soup.
I’m a big fan of soup, even on a healthy day. My pantry is lined with go-to cans of my favorites, tomato and veggie and anything with pasta. This may surprise you, but I’ve even made a few pots of soup in my day. Making soup isn’t a fussy cooking maneuver. You chop up veggies, add water and leave it alone for a few hours. Even I can do that. And if you put the ingredients in the Crock-Pot, the magic happens while you’re at work. What could be better?
Eating it. When you open the door, you’re greeted with that warm, comforting aroma. You ladle it into a bowl, take up your generous-sized spoon, and each mouthful warms you right down to your toes. There’s nothing to cut, nothing to grind, no sharp edges whatsoever. You don’t even have to do much chewing, which conserves energy when you don’t feel all that hot, or you are already hot with a fever.
My homemade soup recipes were pretty standard – bean, minestrone, potato – all good, but then I saw a book called, “Twelve Months of Monastery Soups,” so as part of my continuing “Do something every day that scares you” plan, I decided to give it a try.
Each month, Brother Victor- Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette (Don’t you love that name?), offers a collection of soup recipes featuring seasonal ingredients. I tried a peas-and-mint soup in July and a beet soup in August, served cold, which was new for me. Now that the weather is getting cooler, Brother Victor-Antoine is gently moving into heavier themes, root vegetables and escarole.
Some soups are broth-based, but others call for a spin in the blender. In a double “scare me” maneuver (cooking and machines), I bought one of those handy-dandy immersion blenders, which turned out to be just the ticket once I realized that when they said “immersion” they meant a deep-water dive. Otherwise, the blender becomes a handy-dandy rotary spreader, disseminating beet pulp all over the kitchen cabinets. You don’t make that mistake twice.
Next week, I’m trying Potage du Jardin, a soup that calls for Swiss chard and Gruyere cheese. If it turns out well, it will make me smile and smiling is certainly good for your health.
The book opens with a French proverb: “Eat soup first and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past.”
It’s a nice thought, but I’ll be happy if it just gets me through flu season. ❖