Last-Minute Soup

You should know: I love soup.

I do! My terrible addiction to packaged ramen noodles is, at base, just a particularly quick-fix for my underlying adoration of soup. I like thick soups like lentil and thin soups like the stunning rich beef broth with tiny pieces of vegetables and miniature bow-tie noodles floating in it that I once ate in Hungary. I like hot soups like chicken noodle and cold soups like vichyssoise and tomato consomme (oh, my lord, tomato consomme…) I like meaty soups and vegetarian soups and vegan soups. I love soup.

Maybe it’s because I’m lazy , and like my meals to be spoon-scoopable. But I don’t think so. There is something good about soup. Hot soup in winter is soul-warming and comforting and easy, requiring little thought or fuss. Cool soup in summer is more refreshing than any salad could ever hope to be.

However, like the sainted Laurie Colwin, from who’s books “Home Cooking” and “More Home Cooking” I learned so much of my mode and thinking about cooking, I do not like sweet ‘desert soups’. Not that they’re bad tasting, necessarily, or have an unpleasing texture – I just think that they are properly sauces, and should have some lovely poached fruit sitting in the middle of them, or be drizzled over ice-cream. If sauce is good, I like a lot of sauce. I have no problem with half a grilled peach sitting in an entire bowl of blueberry sauce. Quantity of liquid does not a soup make. Sweet soups are not of the true soupy-spirit.

What may be more surprising than my love hot-soup-in-winter or cold-soup-in-summer, is the fact that I also love hot-soup-in-summer. My Father told me long ago, and I believed him (probably because I was eating ramen at the time and was not about to stop) that eating hot foods in the summer actually helps cool you down. And also? Soup is delicious. I want it all year round.

It’s quarter-of-10 in the evening and has only just cooled down to 70 degrees, with lightning in the distance and a storm rolling in, and I am eating soup.  It took about as long as ramen noodles, perhaps a little longer, and it is infinitely more delicious (or perhaps I am simply growing up?). This soup too I owe to the amazing Ms. Colwin, and because it is so good, I shall share it with you.

Laurie Colwin’s Last-Minute Soup


  • Small saucepan
  • Small knife
  • Small cutting board
  • Small bowl (for mixing egg)*
  • Fork
  • Spoon
  • Bowl to eat it from


  • 1-2 cups chicken broth or stock (home-made if you have it)**
  • A few stalks of asparagus
  • Some little pasta (pastina stars or orzo … that size)***
  • 1 Egg
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon (or Lime)
  • Black Pepper
  1. Bring stock to simmer in small saucepan. While it heats, cut your asparagus into little rounds, perhaps  quarter of an inch long. Leave about an inch and a quarter at the tips. Break the egg into the little bowl and beat it with the fork. Cut the lemon in half.
  2. When the soup is simmering, add the asparagus and pasta.
  3. When the pasta is soft, stir in the beaten egg (quickly, so it forms little strands instead of big lumps), squeeze in the lemon juice (careful of the seeds!) and grind in some pepper. If it’s too sour, you can add a little salt at this point, but probably it will be delicious.

That’s it. Quick and easy, filling and delicious, with vegetable and protein all in one easy, spoonable meal.

Isn’t soup grand?

* What can I say? It’s a small soup. Soup for one. Double this if you want soup for two.

** This is not a vegetarian soup, but if you switch it out for veggie broth or miso (could be interesting) it could be. With the omission of the egg, it becomes vegan – but also less nutritious.

*** Go a bit easy on these unless you like a sort of slurry – they expand a lot!


  1. Ooooh, that sounds like a tasty soup! I haven’t done much with soup in my cooking, except for the occasional post Thanksgiving ‘hey lets put all these left overs in a pot of broth and see what happens’ experiments (results – usually pretty freakin’ good). I did use a recipe SmuttySteff posted once

    EASY: Chop & saute a large sweet onion in oil, when cooked, add as much cumin, coriander, & chili powder as you can handle, THEN 1 can each of corn, 28 oz diced tomatoes, and black beans. Add enough water for a consistency you like, and cook for 20-30 min. 🙂

    After I had weight loss surgery, I would make this, put it in a blender, and eat it with a bit of tortilla and sour cream. Eventually, it evolved in to my super-protein and multi-bean filled chili.

    Once I have the chance, I will make your soup.

    How do you feel about stews?

    • Hey Wendy, thanks for the return recipe!

      I love stews! However, they almost always take quite a long time, and involve various things added at various times, sometimes browned or roasted before hand – the totally easy, quick simplicity that some soups achieve is completely lost in the world of stews.

      But come winter, you can bet I’ll be taking the time!

    • Well, I recommend that you lean to love asparagus! Failing that – oh, almost anything. Wilting some baby spinach leaves in could be great (I’d add them a little later on, though). Or a handful of broccoli florets, perhaps, or hell, some shelled edamame beans. The wonderful thing about soup is that it is forgiving and flexible – do what you like!

  2. Anytime! I always love trading recipes. I’m usually more of a baker myself, but I’ve been experimenting more with cooking lately. When Anon and I are in co-residence, I tend to do most of the cooking, since aside from eggs, cereal, and stuffed peppers (go figure!) Anon can’t cook for crap. He used to take frozen chicken directly from the freezer and cook it in the frying pan. Frozen!

    I’m both Italian, and diagnosed OCD, and thus a bit insane about my kitchen.

    So lately I’ve been breaking out some more of my old standards, and playing around with new stuff, since its much nicer and healthier to cook my own food than eat frozen stuff, at least all the time (there is something to be said for frozen pizza, especially since its the closest I can get to NY pizza in Philly!) Anytime I find something that sounds tasty, I grab the directions and save ’em.

    I haven’t made a stew of my own in years, but I’ve been wanting to try, since I *adore* a nice thick beef stew. Probably come winter, when I’m more likely to want to be near the stove and playing with things.

    I also have the “Nanny Ogg” cookbook, so I must make some of her suggestive discworldian creations soon. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.