Best. Soup. Ever

It’s a wonder that Beth still talks to me, prone as I am to leaving her voice mail messages like this recent one:

“It’s me.  Stop.  Just stop. Whatever you are doing. Stop.  You are going to make soup.  And more specifically, you are going to make THIS soup, in precisely this manner. You will never make a soup THIS good and THIS easy. ”

“If you are inside, you will put your coat on and run.  Past that African market that doesnt have anything for sale, only bar I know still bearing “Like Cola” signage, and past that scary little graveyard where Ethan Allen’s family is buried, to that co op downtown where you shop.  You don’t even need to grab one of those undersized little “look at me I shop in fancy grocery stores” carts, and I don’t care if you push Christopher Kimball to the ground to do so, but you will hightail it around the store chop chop.”

“You will buy a 28 ounce can of tomatoes, and grab a package of baby spinach, an onion, and one of those packages of fresh tortellini.”

“You will then walk to the meat counter and buy eight ounces of Italian sausage.  You will not buy low-fat sausage.  You will not buy turkey sausage. You will not by artisanally produced charcuterie you people pawn off to the tourists from Boston and Montreal.  You will not NOT buy sausage.  You will buy Italian Sausage. “

“I know you have chicken broth and bay leaves in your kitchen so you will now pay for your items and run home.”

“You will dump the tortellini into a large bowl and cover it with boiling water for a moment.  You will then drain it. You will dice the onion, and smash the garlic. “

“You will put your large soup pot on medium-low heat, and add the sausage to it in little crumbled up pieces.  When the pork product attains a medium brown color you will remove it from the heat and add the onions and garlic.  You may add olive oil at your discretion. You will sweat the onions and garlic until they soften, making sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pot.  You will add five cups of chicken broth, even though I know you are going to use that turkey broth you made last week.  Whatever. Just add it.  Then the can of tomatoes, mushing up as need be, depending on what kind you buy.  You will add the tortellini and the sausage and a bay leaf and, if you must, some red pepper.”

Now.  Here is the difficult part.  This one time, you will not adulterate this soup in any manner.  You will not gaze wantonly around your kitchen for “whatever else” might go well with this dish.  You will not search your fridge for that one extra mystical bonus ingredient as if selecting the next incarnate Lama.   You will not add tofu. Or beans. Or squash. Or dried bananas, ginger, harissa, plantains, birdseed, devilled eggs, sriracha sauce, artinsnal radishes or Dayquill tablets. None of that.

Just bring it to a boil, then simmer it for about ten minutes.  Then serve with crusty bread and realize that you are eating perhaps the most amazing soup ever.”

She never called back.


I’m sitting here at work cracking up, and I just feel compared to share.

So the company I work for was recently spun off and sold to an entirely new set of Thai and Malaysian corporate masters. A team of senior executives visited “the plant” today, including stopping by our offices for a chat.

It felt like the Red Cross visiting a POW camp, where they ask us if we have enough blankets and if we are being flogged for minor offenses.

But here’s the funny part.

The bosses here (who are usually pretty reasonable people) decided what a great idea it would be to shut the cafeteria down and demand that the cafeteria staff prepare Thai Food for our guests.

Without belaboring the point, this cafeteria is not staffed by graduates of America’s elite culinary academies.

They are good at what they need to be good at, which is basically heating up prepackaged frozen cookie dough, wrapping lunchmeat in tortillas, and deep-frying stuff.   I will begrudgingly trust them to prepare me a grilled cheese sandwich (off the menu) on the occasional day when I forget my lunch.

As I write this, they should be just about finished with the meal. I’m sorry I have no pictures or menu or recipes or firsthand reports of the meal itself.

But this just screams “International Diplomatic Incident Waiting to Happen.”