Stretching the Soup

I love soup. There are so many different kinds and varieties of soups that I still have a universe of untried flavours to discover. Part of the reason for that is I tend to drift back to my old favourites. After all, soup is one of the original comfort foods.

Soups are so adaptable. You can open up a can, heat and eat. You can add extra ingredients to jazz up the basic contents – there’s nothing quite as decadent as a panful of sautéed buttery, garlicky mushrooms folded into canned cream of mushroom soup.

You can start from scratch, carefully choosing each ingredient to get the flavour and texture just so, or empty out the fridge of all of those little plastic containers to make a hearty (and often interesting) leftover soup.

If unexpected company shows up, stir in a little extra water or stock, and there’s plenty for everyone.

*    *    *

012It was a sultry August day, lunch time, and we were feeling somewhat lazy.

“Let’s just open a can of soup,” suggested Margaret.

I nodded in agreement. I hoped I could come up with enough energy to slice the loaf of French bread.

There was a klunk as a pot went on the stove. Margaret scanned the ingredients listed on the label of the just-heat-and-serve clam chowder.

“There’s hardly any vegetables in here. How about if I add some celery? And maybe a carrot?”

“Sounds good.”

I was trying to recall which drawer held the bread knife.

The fridge door opened and closed. There was energetic chopping. Then it stopped.

“You know, I’ve got some clams. How about we make our own clam chowder?”

“Mm-hmmm. Great.”

If I remember correctly, it’s in the top left drawer.

There was more chopping, the aroma of onions and garlic in butter, the unmistakable fragrance of a chiffonade of basil, the tang of freshly ground peppercorns. Soon everything was simmering in the well-used red and white pot. With any luck I’d find that knife before she had lunch ready.

008Before long, Margaret was ladling chowder into bowls.

Steaming.

We were a little short of milk, so it ended up being a Manhattan clam chowder instead of the New England variety. (But these are the kind of adaptations we have to make when we’re camping.)

Fabulous lunch!

And, yes, the knife was in the top left drawer.

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