My aunt’s vegetable soup could be a ho-hum thing, but she caramelizes every ingredient in a generous amount of oil before toasting black peppercorns and chilies and then simmering it all to the point of perfect harmony. It’s delicious and has inherent healing properties, the best of which is that when you’re sick it distracts you from feeling like crap for as long as you keep eating. It’s a pretty laid-back soup, homey from intention through execution, but it has everything in common with the trying-to-impress-you soups that I’ve consumed. The most stunning meals ever served to me at restaurants have been soups, poured from kettles or vintage teapots, steaming hot, onto dancing bonito flakes, vivid flowers, custardy soft tofu, or freshly pulled soba noodles.
These soups are successful because, fancy or not, the ingredients are paid the basic amount of attention they deserve. A soup thrown together without some thought will keep you alive but not happy. And here’s why you should care: soup is all about indulgence! I mean, soup is basically when you drink the thing you like to eat! With the exception of dessert things, which is not soup, but rather, hot chocolate. Mushroom fanatics (and you know one) cannot turn down mushroom soup. That risotto you love is about broth. Your favourite tomato sauce is a thick tomato soup wrapped around longer noodles than you’d find in chicken noodle soup. But soup does not need to stop at liquid. In fact, DO NOT forget the accoutrements. A dollop of creme fraiche and crushed potato chips (try it) are awesome on creamy soups; battered and fried herbs look stunning served on thin soups. And you’ve seen that thing where people dice up mini grilled cheese sandwiches and use them as croutons, right?
But the real magic in soup brings me back to my aunt’s soup, and that it never fails to make me feel less like crap. Most of that (outside of feeling the love—thanks, Aunty) is in soup’s ability to make you focus on the present the way no other food can. Ever noticed how in the moment you are, in good health or bad, alone in a cafeteria or at a table with friends, when a sip of soup floods your mouth? Isn’t that the definition of perfect mindfulness??
Get all of the soups and the stories to read while sipping them in ISSUE 014 of Le Sauce Magazine: lesauce.com/app.