Soup for Solace

spiced pumpkin soup
Spiced pumpkin soup

The season of the great darkness is upon us and the time of great hunger approaches. Whether the hunger pangs are caused by an empty vegetable garden after the December storms or the mortification of the flesh (January diet) after the seasonal indulgence, I prescribe soup. For those who have stretched the family budget or the waistline it is economical and a healthy option, if the cream and cheese are left in the fridge. After tea and toast it is the ultimate comfort food, warming the soul and soothing the stomach. There is nothing nicer than a steaming bowl of soup after a blustery walk or some winter gardening. It is also great for “man flu” nurturing both the afflicted and the suffering spouses.

Amongst my collection of witty, erudite and informative posts, strangely it is the recipe for celeriac soup which stands head and shoulders above the intellectual elite in the popularity poll. I doubt if I can produce another soup recipe which will be as popular, but the latest version pumpkin and chickpea had a good reception in the croft kitchen. There’s a pot on the hob if you’d like to give it a try.

This post was originally called “Soup for the Solstice” but it missed the deadline, and was left to languish in the drafty corner to evolve. As soup is for sharing, like all good leftovers it was resurrected and served in a new form with parable as a garnish.

The reciting of the heroic sagas, in the intervals between the feasting and general mayhem is an integral part of the winter solstice celebrations. Unfortunately bards have a bad habit of not realising that snores are not always a sound of appreciation, after all too many iambic pentameters in rhyming couplets can be soporific after a few horns of mead. So to lighten the mood, if not the moral tone, there is always time to squeeze in a wee folk tale.

There are many tales involving soup and I particularly like stone soup – a universal story involving either faerie folk, wandering soldiers or itinerant charlatans and a wealth of interpretations. However, I recently came across this Chinese parable which I like even more and is warming and comforting, just like soup:
“When a man asked God about heaven and hell, God first shows him a land where all the people have a delicious meat soup. But they have spoons longer than their arms, so they go hungry and suffer in hell.
Then God shows the man another place where everyone has the same wonderful soup and same long spoons. But here they use the spoons to feed each other. This is heaven.”

13 thoughts on “Soup for Solace

  1. Pia

    The drafty corner, I like that. Been experiementing with soups myself, good with new inspiration.

    • The drafty corner gets a bit full sometimes, but I’m reluctant to send the old ones to the drafty graveyard.
      I love making soup, I’m never sure what the finished article will be like and it is always a test of the creative intuition to get the balance right. Fortunately disasters are are, but the bowl of mediocrity is not unknown.

  2. I like the alternative name for the soup – ‘solace’ instead of ‘solstice’ – it speaks volumes…! I also had to smile when you began talking about Stone Soup, as I found myself thinking about Nail Soup while I rambled this afternoon, having read the post title when my email arrived but before I had opened it. I assume this too is in your repertoire? For me soup and bread would beat tea and toast in the comfort stakes any day, with short or long spoons..

    • As you know I have a fondness for stories and quotations, and sometimes it is difficult not to use the old favourites. In the wonderful tradition of storytelling variations and embellishments are added with each retelling, but somehow the universal themes remain. Nail soup is a version of stone soup, but I’m not sure which came first or whether these are regional variations. Oh dear, I fear an attack of nerdiness and bore I begin to bore anyone I will go and make some more soup.

  3. Lovely – colourful and tasty: what more could you want at this time of year?

  4. Do you know, I last heard that parable about heaven and hell and the spoons from my Mother who died thirty years ago. And never since. How remarkable. No-one I’ve ever shared it with previously had ever heard it or knew where it came from. Thank you so much!

    • My father was a great storyteller as was my grandmother and sometimes it is difficult to remember where an individual story came from as so many have been with me all my life. The soup and the spoons was new ( I love finding new stories) and I found it when browsing the internet to see if I could find any new soup stories. I can’t remember exactly where I found it and there was no explanation as to its origins. So I’m delighted that it triggered a happy memory for you.

  5. And I so agree about soup! I have an absolute weakness for soup and could almost live on it, especially in the colder months. Cauliflower cheese, bean and leek, lentil, lardons and garlic, roasted red pepper, all warming and rich. Your soup looks delicious 🙂

    • Soup must be the elixir of life (or one of them) and with so many variations it is never boring.

  6. There’s not much better than a bowl of soup and some freshly baked bread to cheer things up on a stormy day… and there have been way too many stormy days needing cheered up recently!

    • Yesterday we had the first calm sunny day for weeks. Today its raining and the soup dragon will be in the kitchen again.
      I do hope that your garden is in better shape than mine and if we can’t garden as you say there is always soup to cheer us up.

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