Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Soup That Wasn't ...

Oh, my brain.

It has ideas sometimes. And sometimes, they're even pretty good.

Yesterday, one such idea appeared: "Ooh, you should make soup!", my brain informed me.

Hmm. Yes. Soup. Yesterday was cold. Unseasonably cold. Soup would be a fine idea. I had a lovely vision of me standing in my kitchen, at the counter, dicing onions, dicing carrots, dicing celery. The vision continued over to the stove, of me browning vegetables in my big red Le Creuset dutch oven, adding a splash of wine, deglazing. And then, later, soup, on a back burner, simmering happily and making my home smell great.

Oh, but the cold. I would have to go out into the cold. I had no onions, no carrots, no celery. No soup-making provisions of any kind. Well, wine. I almost always have wine.

I padded into the TV room where, of course, I keep my cookbooks. I have a lot of cookbooks. The TV room has shelves. See? It makes sense.

I pulled a few down, including, inexplicably, Thomas Keller's Bouchon. I wanted to make a simple soup, not soup that would require three days of prep. But Bouchon is a beautiful book. It's always worth my time to look at the pictures.

I nabbed a soup cookbook, too. Surely, in an entire book of soup ideas, one would appeal.

Nah, not really.

I flipped through a Gordon Ramsay book. Conger eel soup? Um, no.

Not that I wouldn't try conger eel soup if someone offered a taste. I'm pretty adventuresome when it comes to food. But at no point in my soup-making visions did my brain conjure the idea of eel. And eel might not be the easiest ingredient to come by in this part of the world. I think we're eel-deficient. That's OK with me.

I landed on a recipe that sounded appealing: beef, mushrooms, barley, red wine, other assorted goodness.

But I'm very persnickety about meat. I don't buy meat at the grocery store. I buy meat at a butcher shop. A butcher shop which contains groceries. So I might be able to pick up all that I needed, or I might need to make two stops, butcher and non.

Hmm.

I decided to go to the store and wander about. I'm a reasonably good cook. Soup is not science. I would buy whatever ingredients appealed to me and make up the recipe as I went along.

Ooh, yes. Good plan.

I put on a warm layer and then my fleece. (I don't like to drive while wearing a coat if I can help it. They're bulky and annoying.) I got in the car and pointed it toward the store.

Once there, I grabbed a little basket. No need for a cart.

The distractions started immediately.

"Oh, brown sugar's still on sale."

No, Beth. You don't need any more brown sugar. You have at least three boxes at home.

"Oh, cute! Christmas clings!"

Beth? You don't affix Santas and reindeer to your windows, no matter how cute.

"But for my car, maybe."

Beth?

"OK."

I wandered through the produce section. Nothing seemed inspiring.

"Frosted shortbread cookies? Why would anyone frost shortbread cookies?"

I was near the bakery at that point. The produce section had failed to lure me into putting anything into my basket. Though the onions looked nice.

I turned the corner. Finally, something on my list.

Golden raisins. Decidedly not for soup.

I headed over to dairy. I needed unsalted butter. It was on sale.

I nabbed two pounds. I ventured up to cream cheese. I stood. I stared. No 3-ounce cream cheeses? Crap.

Not that I can't weigh 3 ounces cut from an 8-ounce brick, but they're handy, those little guys. Pre-measured, hermetically sealed.

I made my way to organic milk. No two-percent of the brand I usually buy. I chose another.

"Ooh, ice cream!"

I'd been wanting ice cream, despite the cold. Nabbed some of that.

I looked down at my basket. It contained a box of raisins, two pounds of unsalted butter, a half-gallon of organic milk, and a carton of mint chocolate chip.

"You can pick up soup on the way home!", my brain said.

But I didn't.

And today? Butter's on the counter, softening. Cookies will be made.

Soup? Nope. But maybe someday.

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