Adventures in Soup-Making

Did I mention that I have decided to write a cookbook? A soup cookbook. With the rave reviews I get every time I plunk a pot of steaming goodness on the table, I guess it went to my head a bit, and I figured that maybe others could benefit from my soup-making techniques.

This decision has given new life to my soup-making. I am no longer content with the old standbys, now that I have to come up with enough unique recipes to fill up an entire book. Already, this has resulted in some exciting flavour combinations that probably would not have graced our table otherwise.

Tonight, as Jason was putting the boys to bed, I was methodically hulling the two gallons of almost over-ripe strawberries Mike had brought up from my uncle and aunt's berry farm near Ponoka tonight. I have never had so many fresh strawberries in my possession at once before. We go through a fair amount of strawberries in frozen form, which we throw into our breakfast smoothies. However, I think the combination of the excess strawberries in hand--what seemed almost a decadent amount--and the new-found bravery I have found in my kitchen since hitting on this cookbook idea, made me a little reckless.

I remembered seeing a recipe for a sweet strawberry soup in one of my cookbooks, but sweetness was not what my taste-buds were hankering for. I wanted a soup that could be used as a hot starter or main course, not chilled or served over ice cream for dessert. A little uncertain if my ideas would actually turn out okay, I decided to turn to the internet for a little pre-cooking research.

I googled an amazing variety of key words, and did not come up with a single soup that used the flavour combinations I had in mind. 99% of the soups were made to be served cold, and every strawberry soup recipe I saw was sweetened and seemed fit for dessert. This made me a little nervous. Surely someone had thought of this before? Maybe there was a reason there were no "Hot Strawberry Basil Cheese Soup" recipes out there.

However, I was determined to try. What's the harm? I thought.

I decided to make only a small batch. And to not wait until the pressures of hungry tummies at meal-time were mounting over me.

I pulled out a few ingredients from the fridge. Then a few more. Put some of the other ones back. Tried to formulate a plan in my mind. Then set to work.

It was with no small amount of trepidation that I started sautéing onions. My hands actually shook as I minced the garlic and added it in. About this point I decided to go with a different combination of flavours than my original plan had been--something about the new line-up appealed to me more. (Not that the original doesn't have merit--I still have a lot of strawberries, so that might be tomorrow's experiment!) I hovered nervously over the pot as I waited for onions to soften. I was trying something completely new and different--oh, how I wanted it to succeed!

Soon, I was blending, adding the final ingredients, and re-heating. Taste-test time.

A sound of pleasant surprise escaped my lips. This was good! Just needed a bit of tweaking with the spices. A little more salt, a dash more cardamom, and oh! I forgot the pepper. Try again, and...

"Oh!" This was good!

After a few more teaspoons made it into my mouth from the pot, I decided to just have a bowl. As I ladled some into the white stoneware vessel, I decided at the last minute to garnish with cheese and green onions.

...It was like a little bit of heaven dancing in my mouth. It was so unexpected, so delicious--and so pretty. With every bite, a little moan of pleasure escaped my lips. Had Jason not been sleeping, I am sure he would have stuck his head out of the bedroom to see what exactly I was doing in the kitchen, anyway!

One really couldn't ask for a more fulfilling result to a cooking experiment than that.

You, however, are going to have to wait for the cookbook to be finished to try it! :-)