Monday, October 13, 2008

Red Hott

Sometimes when I begin to cook something, part of me takes over. It is not a conscious take over- it is not until I have completed a dish that I realize my conscious self was not completely present during its creation. This pot of soup worked a little like that.

My mother, an "almost vegetarian", came down with an awful cold the night before last. She's been in bed wheezing and sneezing and just looking and feeling plain bad. I was going to whip up some chicken soup for her, but the vegetarian part of her insisted she would not have chicken soup. So instead, I set out to craft a hearty vegetable broth from the odds and ends in my fridge.

I began by chopping an onion in fourths, halving four carrots, breaking some green onions in large pieces, grabbing some whole garlic cloves, and chopping a large yukon gold potato into 8 pieces. I dumped all of this in a 4-quart pot, and covered it all with water, about an inch from the top of the pot. The idea was to put the pot on high, bring its contents to a rolling boil, and lower the temperature to insure a light simmer, with the lid on, from anywhere between an hour to two to three hours (it only gets better with time).

But somewhere in between dumping the ingredients in the pot and sitting down to eat it, I do believe an subconscious component of myself took the reigns. First, a small handful of peppercorns were added to the simmering pot. Then a bay leaf, and a teaspoon of tarragon. After 30 minutes the potatoes were removed, skinned, and diced into cubes. The skins were added back to the pot, the potatoes set aside for later.

Towards the end of two hours, the contents of the pot were strained into a container and set aside. About four cups of the liquid, plus a whole carrot were poured back into the pot and set on the stove. A perfectly ripe tomato was skinned and chopped into fourths, pieces added to the pot. Black pepper was ground and added in addition to about a tablespoon of salt. Finally, about 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper found its way in, too. The mixture was blended with an immersion blender (one of my favorite tools). Set back on medium heat, the soup beckoned the cubed potatoes from earlier.

Now I'm sitting with a mug full of this red hot soup in front of me. Definitely sinus clearing. It's amazing!
I remember how I made it, but I'm telling you, I did not feel in control when it came together. And although I made it for my sick mother, there's more than enough to go around. I also still have quite a lot of veggie stock left over, which I will either use in the next couple of days or freeze.
I urge you all to try it, or use this as a guide and make something like it. You can't go wrong. And if you do, you can try again tomorrow!


  1. I want some of that soup! I want to learn how to make Rasam soup!

  2. Clears my head. Please pass the tissues. HONK!