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)*
- 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
- 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.
- When the soup is simmering, add the asparagus and pasta.
- 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!