When A Romantic Cooks

the heart is the key ingredient.

Soup for Steve
by Jacquée T.
copyright © 2011 by Detour Productions, LLC

was at my office in Chicago one Monday a.m. when Steve, my honey from Detroit, called with a surprise. “What’s happening tonight?” he asked. “With me?” I said. I wasn’t expecting him to visit till Thursday. “Yeah,” he said. “I’m available.” No way was I warding him away. We were two people in a fairly new relationship, blushingly adoring of one another. I hadn’t seen him in two months because he was in England. Once he returned, our goal was to see each other as soon as possible. He made it happen. His road trip, he believed, would arrive him at my place by nine. I’d see him that night. I must have a meal prepared for him, I thought, in case he were hungry. That hour of the eve required a light meal. The time of year, autumn, required comfort food. I thought of soup, knew it had to be homemade. I had one acorn squash at home. Somehow it had to make soup. I asked around the office. Feedback for soup ideas included, “Perhaps vegetable broth,” “definitely NOT acorn squash; it’s too stringy.” I had to work till five. On my lunch hour I hurried to a nearby market, pulled out my cell phone to call my pastry chef friend, Kim, who told me I needed garlic, onion, apples, carrots, nutmeg and cinnamon. Vegetable broth would add salt, if that was what I preferred. Yes, acorn squash was okay. So I bought 1 squash, 2 granny smith apples, a white onion, a half gallon of organic orange juice, a loaf of grainy bread, a box of European cookies and a European chocolate bar. Brought it all on the el after work. Could not walk fast enough to get to my door. I arrived home around 5:30. Steve was to arrive at nine. I knew I had to sort my priorities, in case this anxious man were a little early. I organized priorities as follows: 1) squash soup; 2) kitchen (pureeing would make it look like a war zone, I knew I’d have a mess to clean); 3) bed (new sheets, new down comforter cover); 4) me – shower and dolling up. . . . I counted on my fingers, breathless and determined; squash soup; kitchen; bed; me. . . .

I

I finally made it to my kitchen, wanting to steal minutes instead of lose them, when I experienced the mortifying realization that I had the ingredients – but I did not know HOW MUCH of each and what to do with them! I called Kim again. She wasn’t there.

Soup for Steve

2

I’d made one homemade soup in my life before this – asparagus soup, long ago. Not allowing panic to thwart me, I got to work, baking, chopping, pouring, mixing. Knowing < I loved garlic < I loved squash < apples added a sweetness < orange juice added an acidity and sweetness, I prepared the soup, and in retrospect, the recipe went like so:

Squash Soup
Cut and de-seed 2 acorn squash. Put chopped garlic cloves into each half, cover each with aluminum foil. Bake at 375N for 45 minutes. Sauté 1 ½ cups onion garlic cloves (stop just before you think, “oops, that’s too many!”) ground pepper In saucepan cook 3/4 cup orange juice 1 ½ cups carrots 1 medium granny smith apple When squash is done, scoop out of shells. Combine squash and onion/garlic mixture with ingredients in saucepan. Season generously with cinnamon and nutmeg. Simmer for a few minutes. Purée, adding orange juice as needed to thin mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and simmer. Add two cups soy milk (more for thinner soup). Makes a lot.

So I succeeded in an impressive soup to go with apple slices, cheese and bread. My friend Kim said that sour cream or croutons offered a tasty topper. I thought, that darling man deserved both. To boot, I had ample orange juice left over for mimosas during Steve’s week-long stay.

Soup for Steve

3

Hastily yet meticulously I changed the bed sheets, then wrestled a tiring battle to put on the new comforter cover and button it. The comforter simply refused to meet the corners, so I had to crawl in and pull the comforter corners to meet the comforter cover corners. This terribly mussed my hair. I wanted to get out of my work clothes. Hurried to the shower. Just as I dried myself off, thinking, “What shall I wear – to seem casual yet intriguing?” the door buzzer rang. My gallant guest had arrived – an hour early! I gasped. “Put something on,” I commanded myself, “Now!” Steve had to wait only a minute while I put on crop pants, a comfy top and capri shoes. I opened the door to exchange smiles and receive his embrace. He’d forgotten the Detroit time zone was an hour ahead of mine when he’d told me his ETA, he said. Still, I had ready for my honey, squash soup ... and me. ***