Soup is one of those primordial foods, as basic and essential to eating well as learning to tie one’s shoes is to personal development. In the spirit of eating for purposes besides simple fuel, learning the basics of soup-making represents a first step towards enhancing the quality of our culinary lives with minimal effort.
When it comes to culinary delights, some are more worthwhile to remember than others. Amanda Hesser, author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook, reminds us of the oven-baked David Eyres Pancake which, at more than 50 years old, is no less delicately appetizing than ever. Craig Claiborne first wrote about the Pancake in his New York Times food column upon returning from a trip to Hawaii in 1966. Imagine the islands in those days: the coral reefs were still alive and Waikiki was considered the jewel of the Pacific.
Tradition, and its accompanying nostalgia, is something for which we oftentimes pine. Yet we sometimes still complain about the demands placed on our time and the emotional energy that is required. In the fast moving towns and cities where we live, we may seek to avoid these strains by living private lives apart from the past. Still tradition tugs at our heartstrings. This is most especially true around the holidays when special meals allow us a means to bridge this gap. Our appetites are awakened to old ways of doing things that draw us together, and connect us across generations and amongst family and friends. A notable example: Italians practice a holiday on Christmas Eve, which a growing number of Americans enjoy as well, called “Feast of the 7 Fishes.”
Cooking and eating savory pancakes called latkes this time of year is a favorite of Jews during the Hanukkah Festival of Lights. But it also is a special treat to Christians and those of other religions alike. Who doesn’t appreciate the crispy fried pancakes made from potatoes or root vegetables fried in oil? They bring a warmth and nurturance to colder weather and a satisfaction that is incomparable.
As we approach a colder time of year, warm broths and creamy vegetable soups gain in popularity. Cold or hot all of these soups are easy to make any season. And they are made easier still by the use of a blender, robocoup, food processor or immersion wand. Personally I like a chunkier soup but smooth and velvety or chunky and hardy, soup is wonderful. I would add a simple salad on the side with oil and vinegar or chopped greens in the soup itself—like chard or spinach.. But with or without the greens, the soup can remain the centerpiece.
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