I have lots of plans to tell you about delightful little treats you can make in the kitchen and be pleased about. Oh, yes. The list is long. The items are tasty. The spirit is willing. But the flesh! Oy, the flesh. The flesh must go here and there, fetch this, mail that, find its desk under a mountain of backlogged CRAPIOLA that seems to pile up faster than the snow, which is in and of itself a tingly, sparkly, festive reminder that you need snow tires and 2/3 of everyone outgrew their snow boots or their snow pants or lost the three right gloves of the four pair you bought as the last flakes flew last winter, and left the fourth pair, soaking wet, in the car overnight.
So, for the moment, in place of creatively flavored and ironically wrapped and winsomely tied holiday treats, here is some juicy behind the scenes news. I am a big hater of packaged food (that’s not the news), but that doesn’t mean I don’t use it–just that I am not very happy about it. When I am at the TJ’s near my sister’s house in Boston loading up on ingredients and feeling guilty that I am not buying them for twice the price but half the packaging in an independently-owned bulk bin near me (if only we could bale and sell guilt! such good works we could do with the money!), my hand cannot resist tucking a few soups and other doodahs into the cart for a future time when I have not threshed and ground and pounded all the things I need to feed the gaping maws of those that look to me for sustenance. Then (tell me if this sounds familiar, or if I should seek help immediately), when I am about to grab one of these items from the larder–let’s say it is Monday morning, and I eked out the last possible lunchbox fare on Friday, and neither went to the store nor threshed anything over the weekend–my right hand reaches for the Luna Bar or the whatever it is, while with my left swats that hand away. “No! You’re saving that for when you really need it!” I scold myself. “But isn’t this one of those times?” I meekly inquire. Then I duke it out with myself, and sometimes I get a whiff of inspiration and manufacture something like some kind of lunchbox Ninja/MacGyver-as-the-final-credits-are-about-to-roll, and sometimes I get to open the can. Sometime soon maybe I will get loaded up into the nutwagon.
On a recent day–let’s call it Monday, since that’s what it was–I poured tomato soup from one of those square boxes into a pot, warmed it up, and put it in a thermos. Nothing minced or pinched or added. Just Trader Joe’s Tomato Soup, neat.
“That,” said my son later the same day, “was the best soup ever.”
So on another recent day–let’s call it ‘today,’ since that’s what it was–when I found myself in the customary lunchbox snafu, but missing my in-case-of-emergency-break-seal manufactured soup, I did something wild and reckless. I recreated the soup. Like a freakin NINJA. Michelin 3-star/slow food rock-star? No.
But Mmm, Mmm good.
- 25 oz tomato puree, or thereabouts
- 6 oz (3/4 cup) evaporated milk, or some other fairly creamy substance near to your hand
- 1 cube of vegetable bouillon or, if you have been paying attention, a tablespoon of this magical stuff
- 3/4 c water
- 1T honey
Mix it. Heat it. Hit it with an immersion blender if you feel energetic. Taste it. Adjust it. Pack it up or ladle it out.