Two Soups: Hilarious!

Don’t underestimate the restorative powers of a good dose of vitamin D.  After a week under the sun in Cuba I’ve been laughing and shimmying around the house non-stop for three days.  Thoughts and situations that used to make me anxious, like, What am I doing with my life? Why are there coffee grinds all over the kitchen counter?  What if I don’t want to eat breakfast or drink eight glasses of water a day? are now as fleeting as a sand castle assembled on the shore at high tide.

The day after getting back I was eager to get cooking, figuratively in my creative life, and literally in the kitchen.  I decided to make two soups: a minestrone, which turned out wonderfully,

and a white bean soup with swiss chard that my friend Giovanna makes.  It may be the best soup ever.  Here’s the thing though: I’ve asked Gio for the recipe at least a dozen times and she always tells me verbally and it’s in one ear and out the other.  I couldn’t bring myself to ask her how to make it again–she’s got far more important things to do, including caring for her little baby boy.  So I decided to improvise but then I couldn’t remember if Gio adds potatoes or not so I sent her one quick text and she confirmed in the positive that she did.  Then I just had to guess how many potatoes, and how much of everything else.

If Gio has taught me one thing, it’s to really get some colour out of your soffritto, or mirepoix, or your onions, carrots and celery.  That’s where plenty of flavour can be achieved.  For the bean soup, I was pretty sure she left out carrots, and that she browned up onions, celery and the potatoes in olive oil to start, seasoning them with salt and pepper along the way.

Then I added about two cups of dried white kidney beans, plenty of water, two fresh bay leaves and the last nugget of a parmigiano reggiano rind that I had left in the house.

I let this cook for about three hours at a low simmer.  When the beans were done I mixed the soup with my hand blender and then added washed and roughly chopped swiss chard, which cooked down in a minute or two.

As soon as the Beast got home from work, I started heating up a baguette and got some butter out of the fridge.

Beast:  What smells so good?

Foodie:  Two soups, that’s what!  We’ll have the minestrone tonight and then the white bean one tomorrow.

Beast:  With sausage.  Will have the white bean one tomorrow with sausage, right?

Foodie:  Sure, I’ll make you some sausages tomorrow.  Would you like chocolate cake tonight?

Beast:  How do you mean?

Foodie:  Well, remember when I bought all those groceries before I abandoned you and I got an instant chocolate cake mix with icing?  Do you want me to make that for you? Because I’ll make it right now if you want me to.  It’ll be ready for after dinner practically.  Do you want me to?

Beast:  Would you like chocolate cake?

Foodie:  Oh god no, but if you want, I’ll make it for you.

Beast:  Do you just need to hear me say that I want it?

Foodie:  Yes.

Beast:  Please make instant chocolate cake.

Foodie:  Fine, I’ll make it.

So I got out my favourite cake tins, purchased from a Value Village years ago, and prepared the instant cake mix for baking in about 30 seconds.  Then we ladled out our bowls of soup and headed to the living room in order to start watching the series Deadwood again.

Foodie:  Would it be weird if I started dressing like Calamity Jane?  Or a cross between Jane and the character Mattie from True Grit?

Beast:  No.  Would it be weird if I started wearing shinier clothes, like Ornette Coleman did, and little hats, like Thelonius Monk?

Foodie: (Giggling)

Beast:  What’s so funny?

Foodie:  Oh something Erinn just texted me.  She’s hiliarious.

Beast:  What did she say?

Foodie: It’s an inside joke.

Beast: (Silence)

Foodie: Did I tell you about how we discovered that we share so many similarities, like we both like tickling our hands.  And this one time–I think we were playing cards poolside and sipping on mojitos–I mentioned something about how I’d rather have somebody tickle my entire body than have a body massage and that turned into this joke about The Body Tickle and how we just wanted a body tickle after our hard days of suntanning and swimming and drinking.  It was so funny.

Beast: (Eyes lighting up)  Did you guys give each other body tickles?

Foodie:  No, but we made up this other thing and it was so funny.  You see all the European ladies wore these bikini bottoms that went right up the butt.

Beast:  Go on.

Foodie:  I think they were mostly Argentinian women, or maybe Italian women, but Erinn said something like, “Oh here comes the butt brigade” when a group of them were passing by our umbrella and I thought she said, “Oh here come the butt blades” and it was the funniest thing in the world to us!  Think about it!  BUTT BLADES!

Beast:  How many affairs did you have?

Foodie:  Zero.  The Cuban men loved Erinn though!  Her blond hair and blue eyes really set her apart from the Europeans. I was like Joan Cusack in every single movie she’s ever starred in, and ended up doing a lot of consoling. They’d say to me, “Your seester–” and I’d say, “She’s not my sister,” and they’d say, “Your friend, she is so bee-u-tee-ful. I am in love,”  And I’d be all like, “Tell me about it buddy.  Don’t I know it.” But nobody was really creepy–just this one guy from Ontario.  We called him “Creep”.  We had nicknames for everybody.  There was James Franco and Mario Lopez and–

Beast:  Like the actors?

Foodie:  Ohmygod it was so funny!  I thought Jose was more of a Daniel Craig and Erinn was all like, “As if!  He’s definitely a Michael Rapaport.”  Whatevs man.  It was hilarious.

Beast:  (Silence).

Foodie:  But our favourite was Alain.

Beast:  What was Alain’s nickname?

Foodie:  We had a real hard time deciding because he was about five feet tall and had one eye that was a touch wonky.  But oh Alain was just the best. Our wine glasses were never empty.

Beast:  How much wine did you drink?

Foodie:  Well, we only took wine with our meals.  We had pina coladas before lunch, white wine with lunch, more pina coladas or daiquiris after lunch, then mojitos before dinner, white wine with dinner and then an Italian digestive after dinner, or more mojitos.  Or whiskey.

Beast: And the food wasn’t that bad?

Foodie:  It was great! Our favourite meal of the day was lunch time.

We’d order grilled fish–I think it was mackerel–and pile up mounds of salad, vegetables and rice, and the occasional French fry when they were available.  It was delicious.  But the view was even better.

Beast: What are you laughing at now?

Foodie:  Oh just another text from Erinn.

Beast:  What did she say?

Foodie:  She asked me if I think Jon Bon Jovi is cute or not.

Beast:  Do you?

Foodie:  I don’t know.

Beast:  Tell her that I think he’s fucking gorgeous.

The chocolate cake turned out slightly lop-sided on account of our oven which tilts forward.

But oh lordy was it good.

The next night we enjoyed the white bean with swiss chard soup as soon as the Beast got home from work.

Beast:  This is incredible.  It’s one of the best soups you’ve ever made.

Foodie:  You think?  It it is pretty good, isn’t it.  I didn’t achieve the depth that Gio does with hers but I’m still pleased.  The parmigiano bits on top really help.

Beast:  The sausage really helps.

(After dinner, on the couch, watching Deadwood.)

Beast: What are you laughing at now?

Foodie:  Oh just another text from Erinn.

Beast:  What did she say?

Foodie:  Inside joke.

Beast: (Pause) Let me ask you a question: how many saxophones does Erinn play?

Foodie:  I don’t know, but she has the voice of an angel.

Beast:  This chocolate cake is so good it makes me wonder why anybody would go to the trouble of making one from scratch.

Foodie:  It really is delicious.  But what about that Nigella Guinness chocolate cake I make?  That’s pretty amazing.

Beast:  It’s good, but this is better.

Foodie:  I’m going to text Erinn and see what she thinks.

Minestrone soup:  Foodie  **    Beast **1/2

White Bean soup: Foodie  **1/2   Beast ***

8 responses to “Two Soups: Hilarious!

  1. Hahahaaaa. I’m trying not to wake the baby, but this post is really really funny.

  2. I’d love that recipe. How would it taste sans sausage?

    • Paula, I ate my soup sans sausage–it’s not necessary at all (if you ask me.) Here’s the recipe, but if we’re lucky Giovanna will post her version too!

      White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

      -one medium onion
      -two celery sticks
      -two medium (or one large) Yukon Gold potato
      -two cups dry white kidney beans
      -two fresh bay leaves (dry will do too.)
      -rind of Parmigiano Reggiano (or another sharp cheese)
      -olive oil, salt, pepper

      Chop up your onion and celery and fry in a generous amount of olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring every minute or so.
      Let that get some good colour to it and then add your diced potato. Continue to brown, and season some more with salt and pepper.
      (I get impatient with this but I’ve learned that if I let the soffritto cook for about five minutes longer than I normally would, the soup is better for it!)

      Add the white beans and cover with water. I filled up my pot two parts water to one part bean mixture. Add the bay leaves and the cheese rind and then
      bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat until the beans are soft (about two and a half hours.)

      Meanwhile, wash and roughly chop the swiss chard. When the beans are cooked, use a hand blender to puree the soup (as finely or roughly as you like–l left mine
      with a bit of texture to it.) Add the swiss chard and stir. In a few minutes it’ll wilt and the soup will be ready for eating.

      Garnish with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano, salt, pepper and good glug of olive oil.

  3. Those are enormous flagons of wine. It is a testament to the optimism of Cuban men that they continued to throw themselves at the feet of two women (no one really believes the Joan Cusack thing, do they?) who spent all day drunk on venti glasses of chardonnay, all night snuggled together in a hotel room, and in between occupied themselves taking pictures of every passing derriere of a female persuasion.

    Just shows to go ya, I guess.

  4. I see what you’re getting at Ste, but I swear: there were no body tickles.

  5. Wow that soup recipe is pretty accurate! The only thing I do different is fry the chard in a little evo with garlic and chili before adding it to the soup

    • I suppose that after telling me so many times how to make it, the recipe actually sunk in. I will definitely fry the chard first, and add a bigger hunk of cheese rind because my soup could have been more salty. I guess I could have also just added more salt.

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