This time of year, I adore soup. It leaves warm fuzzies in the belly. My beloved also enjoys soup. However, his qualifications look different. If it can be eaten with a fork or if a few crackers can stand up in the middle without falling over, then it passes as a soup he will enjoy.
Otherwise, to him, it’s a mere first course that time shouldn’t be wasted on when there are meat and potatoes waiting.
The end of the garden growing season should be solely devoted to soup. I collect every single squash, cabbage, onion and tomato I can find to throw into a pot, allowing them to cook down before carefully placing the mixture in little bags in the freezer as a starter.
Then, I thaw that out, add more veggies and a little bit of meat — or a lot of meat if I want to feed my man. Like Cruella de Vil proclaiming her love for the furs of Dalmatian puppies, I stand in my kitchen with my arm extended stating, “I live for soups!”
Tomatoes vs. soup
My beloved, however, has a different mission for every single tomato on every single vine by the end of the growing season. He believes it is bordering on sin not to can at least 65 jars of tomatoes. If the jars start running low, he starts to twitch. Heaven forbid we run out of tomatoes for spicy chili. It doesn’t matter if we have some left from the previous year. In all our 34 years together, we have never once run out. We’ve faced a lot of things, but by golly, we’ve never run out of canned tomatoes.
I splurged this fall and got the most incredible kitchen device since the electric can opener. It’s a blender and a cooker, and I believe if it had legs, it could match my socks.
I’ve made jam with it, peanut butter, smoothies and, much to my delight, the most scrumptious soups to ever come out of the kitchen: butternut squash, broccoli, tomato bisque … oh, they are divine.
My mission was greatly simplified with this wonderful contraption. I could gather, cook and stuff bags in the freezer, but all my husband saw were tomatoes disappearing from the vine. One day while he was around, I faked a canner full of tomatoes when there were really only four jars.
Could this lead to deeper deception, I asked myself? Perhaps, but I didn’t care. I was going to have my perfected tomato bisque with fresh basil.
Each week I bring out a new bag of soup. While he’s enjoying his soup thick enough to be the foundation for a saltine castle, I’m sprinkling sunflower seeds over my butternut squash soup that is restaurant-worthy. There are still plenty of jars of tomatoes. As long as he doesn’t look at the dates, we’re fine! So, here’s to another year of marital bliss.
McClain writes from Greenwood, Ind.