Birthday soup (revisited)

little bear birthdaylittle bear party tableMy youngest daughter had jaw surgery recently. She’s on a liquid diet for 6 weeks. Needless to say, I can’t let the kid starve. I’ve had to figure out what foods she likes and can swallow easily with no chewing involved. Initially, I assumed the milkshake, ice cream, jello route would be the way to go. However, she pulled a fast one on me and went in the savory direction. Chicken broth was her first “like”, followed by pureed ham and bean soup….lots of fiber and protein in that one. That was the ticket for several reasons. With the return to school came the necessity for brown bag lunches and the discovery of a modern, microwaveable version of chicken & and stars, a childhood favorite from the past, finding favor once again.

Going into week #3, she’s asking for rice pudding (after my first attempt at making my husband’s, mother’s homemade recipe which required two hours of vigilant, non-stop stirring.) The trial batch turned out more like creamy, rice soup, but she ate it and enjoyed the cinnamon/egg/sugar creamyness. (My husband didn’t care for it….not enough like his mom’s, but, if I tried again, he reassured it would “get better everytime and pretty soon, would be perfect…just like mom’s,…. but might take more than two or three more tries, eventually, it would be edible. Just great.)

Recently she’s requested instant mashed potatos with gravy, moved onto mushy rice with butter and loosely scrambled eggs with melted cheese. Not bad, I say, what with three more weeks to go, we’re working this out and she hasn’t really complained yet. But, my dilemma is with tomorrow; it’s her birthday. I gave thought to the menu and it’s going to start off with “birthday soup.” What else? As I reflect on that title, my mind immediately returns to years gone by, a special nighttime story book and a different birthday soup. Thoughts of Little Bear, Cat, Chicken and Duck making their special soup for his birthday party. Each character brought a special item to contribute to the pot. They all were so proud of themselves and loved their celebratory soup while sitting around the table together. The best part was when Mother Bear brings in the birthday cake glowing with lit candles. I have the ice cream cake all ready to go. I’m sure my little bear will be so pleased.

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therapeutic soup

There’s something very therapeutic about making soup. Something about creating the heavenly, aromatic concoction in my own way that starts the healing process. Starting with heating the broth slowly. Working the slap-chop to prepare uneven pieces of onion, carrots, and celery. Adding the vegetables and spices. The taste begins with the scent. Tonight, it’s what I call my “Diversity Bean” soup: ham chunks with black and white beans. When I’m in soup-mode; I’m starting to feel good. Saturday nights during the Fall and Winter, the pressure’s off my “what’s for dinner tonight” plate, because I know soup’s on. Easy, delicious and my family loves whatever I create, whether it’s the well-loved chicken noodle, beans and greens, beef vegetable or ham and bean. Got to run now, the pot’s simmering and I’m feeling better already.