Echoes and Mementos

Thoughts and pictures about cooking, eating, reading, writing, and living.

Tag: soup

Souping the Pumpkin

Recipe for Pumpkin Soup: When you are walking past the grocery store and dusk has fallen early, the air perplexes you with its coolness, and the loudest sound you hear is the surf of leaves, check the corner of your eye for squash shaped like a basketball, and there the early pumpkins are, only few laps of the hour hand past Labor Day, but oriole-orange, fluted, and

fat. Take the tiniest, sweetest pumpkin, and take your knife to a length of sharpening steel. Cut off the squash’s top, lifting it by the grip of hard, curled vine, and scoop out the seeds; quarter the topless squash into wedges, halving and re-halving them into crescents, arranging the rearranged pumpkin on a metal sheet, and baking

the whole show; when a fork slides with ease through the pumpkin’s flesh, and when your kitchen smells like Halloween, remove the slices and scoop the pale meat from the orange rinds, whirl the meat in a blender, sprinkle in spices (cinnamon, chile-heat, nutmeg, s+p), whirl again, and pour the soup into bowls. Douse with olive oil. Chop the roasted seeds and splash them on. Before tasting the first spoonful, remember the summer’s river-breeze and lusty evenings, amber like a pumpkin, and, seen looking back from the early days of fall, looking quite like soup.

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Senses and Soup Dumplings

You see through the front window two chefs making dumplings, and, taking this as a good sign, and also taking the recommendation of your girlfriend’s Chinese co-worker, you order them when the waitress comes. Soon you see the dumplings themselves coming. Here they are in their circular steamer:

Stranger to the soup dumpling, you pinch a pouch between your chopsticks. A dip in the dark sauce, an upswing to your mouth. So far a soup dumpling looks like a doughy bag twisted at the top. It smells starchy, feels like slippery plastic chopsticks, tastes sour and spicy from the leftover zing of pickled cabbage, and sounds like the lilting music of the Asiatic languages heard in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Now you pop that starchy sucker into your mouth and bite.

The dough ruptures; the soup gushes out. There is soup in this thing? There is soup. It scalds your tongue. You chew and swallow the molten dumpling as fast as you can. You feel a hot lump falling to your stomach.

Two minutes later you pick up a dumpling with your fingers. A dip in the dark sauce, a plop on the broad spoon, an upswing to your mouth. With a chopstick you puncture the dough and suck out the soup. Then you eat the dough and the pork meatball entombed therein. A soup dumpling feels fluid, gelatinous, and solid. The dumpling sounds like faraway languages. It smells like winter spices, pork, and ginger. To the eye, a soup dumpling looks like a bag of dough, then greasy drops on a flat spoon.

Nanni’s Pea Soup

My grandmother’s pea soup takes two minutes of work to make. While the soup simmers for an hour and a half, read a book, watch a show, take a walk. A pot of the stuff costs $3 or $4. Best of all, she does not soak the peas beforehand.

Serves 2 (as a main)

2 cups   Dried split green peas

8 cups   Water

3            Bay leaves

1            Garlic clove, peeled

1 tsp      Salt

Pepper

1) Rinse peas in a colander. Dump them into a large pot. Add water, garlic, and bay leaves. Set heat to medium-high and cover the pot.

2) When the soup starts to bubble, uncover the pot. Tinker with the heat so that the soup is cooking at a strong simmer, just below a full boil.

3) Let the soup simmer for an hour and a half. Stir when the mood strikes.

4) The peas should be mostly dissolved in the water; the soup should be thick and viscous. Remove bay leaves. Add salt and a few grindings of pepper. Stir. Eat.