How to conquer your fear of making soup

I used to be intimidated by soup. I love to eat it, but the making of the stuff scared me. I thought all soups were the result of long hours of labor and expert cooking knowledge.

But then I learned how to make one soup. I used store-bought broth, and the whole thing turned out pretty good. I got pretty comfortable making my own variations of that soup based on what I had in my refrigerator. And then I faced my fear of making homemade chicken stock, and discovered the secret that shrouded soups in such mystery for me for so long: making stock (the foundation to most soups) is about as difficult as boiling eggs. That’s it. That’s the secret: anyone can make soup. 

I am sharing that with you in case you are like my past self: afraid of soups. All I have to say to you is to take it from someone who let their fears control them for too long. That fear was stupid. Pointless. A waste of time. Amen.

This brings me to a book that is currently changing my life. And I mean that quite seriously. The book: 

by Tamar Adler

It is so good, it deserves center alignment in the middle of this left-aligned post and bold font no less. If I knew how to add a soundbite of angels singing “aaaaah” right here, I would because it would be entirely appropriate. So this book. I first heard of it through a friend (hi, Amanda!), marked it in my goodreads account as “to-read” and then forgot about it.  Not unlike the One Ring forgotten until found by an unsuspecting hobbit, I discovered this book again when I decided to see if the library had it a couple of weeks ago. And it has possessed me.

This may sound crazy, but the first chapter in this book, “How to Boil Water”, is a game-changer. You may think you know how to boil water, and you would probably be correct in that assumption. However, I would ask you this: how empowered do you feel to put a pot of water on to boil, and throw things in it like a mad scientist with the full assurance that what comes out of it will be delicious? If you are afraid to throw things into a pot without a recipe in the vicinity of your work space, you may feel like an unarmed peasant going into battle who is suddenly gifted with full armor and a tank to ride around in after reading this book.

Confession: I have always considered recipes to be a necessary evil. Since I hated science all through my entire formal education, I have to use them because I don’t actually know the reason food actually changes under certain temperatures (okay, I mean, I know on a very basic level). But the point is, I use recipes against my will. My goal in cooking has always been to cook like a pioneer woman with modern kitchen appliances. Did the 19th century cook have cooking blogs, or even books of recipes? No. She had knowledge of HOW to do things, passed along to her by women before her, and a few recipes, of course. But mainly, she was a lot smarter than me. And I want to be her.

This book is a dream come true for me, in that sense. I haven’t finished reading it, but it has already changed the way I have been preparing food. Delicious food made simply, presented in a “teach a girl to fish…” kind of way. It is not a cook book, although it does include a few recipes. Mainly, Tamar guides you through how to think about cooking, how to think about food and being frugal in a way that makes cooking easy, and not a chore. I may be talking about this a book again, so consider this a little introduction. And also consider getting your hands on this book as soon as you are able.

P.S. I still think this is part of the secret to cooking.


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