covert cooking operations

John usually returns home from work as I am making dinner. Tonight, no exception. Barley simmering away in broth, awaiting their friends, the tomatoes and lentils to join them in the pot. Lentil barley soup. It was a soup kinda day around here. I have never used a recipe for it before, because it’s *soup* after all, not souffle, but my results were usually underwhelming. Uninspired. Soooo…I set out to search that great Cookbook in the Sky, the internet, and my new favorite recipe site. Love reading recipe reviews. I found a promising recipe and set off! Of course, I had no swiss chard–really, do any of *you* have it in your fridge? I did have bok choy, because I like it, and I used it last week in the green curry tilapia I made (Thai). (Side note: some day I will learn never to say never. As in the case of, “There is no way I will ever buy a jar of Thai curry paste.” We are the king and queen of odd condiments around here, so you’d think I’d know better. But anyhow.)

Anyway, the soup is simmering, minding its own soupy business, and John comes home, fixes a Manhattan or other weird drink he makes with an orange twist, puts on the Chopin piano music, and starts hovering. He typically is not a hoverer over the stove. I was trying to finish the state income tax form on the computer so I went ahead and designated him Official Soup Finisher.

Anyone who knows us at all will see immediately that this was a risky thing. Remember India and the spicy food? But me? I never think badly of or misapprehend my husband’s intentions.

So there we are, sitting at the table eating this fabulous soup. John is gushing. Yes, he is gushing. Over the soup. And the soup is really good, I admit. We like soup. It had good proportions of ingredients, and great flavor, and the kids were eating it, kind of. William ate three handfuls of oyster crackers and took one bite of soup and didn’t gag, so that’s good. Carrie ate it too, even the tomatoes.

The children are excused, John is working on his second bowl, and he asks, “Is it time for true confessions?” I have no idea what he is talking about. My mind starts spinning: have I done anything I need to confess? All of a sudden he admits to adding a shake of Tabasco to the soup. *Gasp!* What? No!!!!! My recent policy is not to alter a recipe when I first make it so I will know how it is “supposed” to taste.

But, after considering it while, who cares? The soup was great. I might not have approved a shake of Tabasco in the soup, but the results were great. He got the idea from the Teresa Lust book, Pass the Polenta. Every soup needs a dash of Tabasco to bring out some indescribable zing or zest. And here I thought salt was good enough.

Thankfully, he came clean, and I will henceforth be able to duplicate the soup we ate tonight. Even better, it’s another anecdote in our arsenal of cooking stories. Everyday ingredients, long simmered, and a little surprise zing every now and then. Makes for great soup and a great marriage.

Comments are closed.