Soup in Mass Quantities

I've learned that it's best to surrender to the urge to cook, ride it out, and not feel bad that I'm not doing other work instead. In a book I read a while back, the author, David Allen, claimed that "work" consists of anything in our lives that we want to change from the way it is now to something different. If we want our clothes to go from dirty to clean, that's work, just as grading papers or writing article manuscripts is. So cooking is work that, if done now, will save me time another day (and probably will save money too), and it's soothing to boot. My freezer now looks like my grandmother's deep freeze, full of sour cream containers and peanut butter jars of soup, both perfect bringing-lunch-to-school portions.

The first soup I made was from a recipe I've had my eye on for a while from The Steinbeck House Cookbook:

Leek and Tomato Soup

2 leeks, including some of the green part, chopped and washed well
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 c. chicken stock or canned broth
2 c. canned beef broth
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and white pepper

In a kettle, cook the leeks in butter over moderately low heat, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes and cook the vegetables for 1 minute. Add the stock and the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer it for 10 minutes. Add the basil and salt and white pepper to taste. Serves 8.

Now someday I'll make the soup the right way, but for now I'm too poor and lazy. I did chop up three fresh tomatoes, but didn't peel them or remove the seeds. While I love basil, I couldn't bring myself to buy a package of pricey fresh basil just for 1/4 cup; instead, I used a can of crushed tomatoes with basil. And I didn't buy white pepper. The soup was delicious anyway, and I'll be eating the frozen portions for a while.

I also wanted to make a heartier soup using carrots, potatoes, and onion. After I finished the leek and tomato soup, I boiled carrots, then put in the potatoes, then the onion. I didn't use much water so that I'd have a good water-to-vegetables ratio and wouldn't have to strain the vegetables. After the carrots, potatoes, and onion softened, I added chicken broth, beef broth, a can of kidney beans, a can of diced tomatoes, some red pepper flakes, and a little Cavender's Greek seasoning. Also delicious.

I find myself in a kind of trance while cooking, and I love the feeling. It reminds me of when I was more heavily into photography and spending a lot of time in the darkroom. I'd develop film and make prints for hours, thinking, but not having any verbal thoughts.


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kitchen equals darkroom

You know, I had never made the connection between the state you attain in kitchens and darkrooms before but you're right - they're very much the same. And I started seriously spending my time in kitchens right around the time I lost access to darkrooms. Maybe not such a coincidence, eh?

The kitchen/darkroom *zone*

Hey, Krista, I was thinking about you and Jeff as I wrote that post, so I'm really glad you responded and that you understand what I'm saying. When I was in undergrad, majoring in English and minoring in photography, it was almost like a wax-on/wax-off phenomenon in my mind: I'd spend hours writing essays -- in that verbal zone -- then spend hours in the darkroom in a different kind of cerebral visual zone. Very similar to cooking. Knitting too, but not as much.


That sounds awesome. I love a good soup and leeks are unbeatable. I make minestrone fairly often, varyign the ingredients according to the pantry resources. Spicy soups. Cream soups. Chowders. Mmm.

I have similar feelings about cooking and often feel soothed by the repetition of chopping, the simplicity of stirring. I find myself facing thoughts that were pushed to the back of my mind during the busy part of the day. (I also do this while playing video games, though.)

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