in which a tale is told about the preparation of soup

Anne is helping a friend move today, so she went down to The OC last night, in order to avoid the hellish traffic that exists on the Southern California freeways between 6am and 10pm just about every day of the week. 

This meant that Nolan and I were alone last night, free to watch the original Rollerball while dining on Bachelor Chow (Last night's particular version of Bachelor Chow took the form of a quesadilla, dressed up with diced Ortega chiles, fresh pico de gallo, and of course jalapeños … now that I think of it, this is more like advanced Bachelor Chow.)

But the tale I wish to spin for you today is not about how much we loved the art direction in Rollerball, or how I burned the everlivingfuck out of my hand on the pan while cooking what ended up being a fantastic dinner. No, the tale I wish to spin for you today is about something that happened earlier this week, when Anne was home and we made an absolutely sensational butternut squash soup using a recipe in the Whole Foods Cookbook.

"It's going to be cold and windy tonight," Anne said that afternoon as we stood in the kitchen and contemplated dinner.

"It's cold and windy right now," I said.

"Yes. That's how I know it's going to be cold and windy tonight. It feels like fall, so I want to make something hearty for dinner."

"Something Autumnal?" I said.

"Um…"

"Something that screams HARVEST!" I said, punctuating the word with jazz hands.

"Sure. Whatever. Let's make some soup with that squash you bought yesterday."

I picked the squash up off the counter and cradled it in my arms like it was a baby. "Do you want to be soup? Do you want to be soup?! I bet you'd be a delicious soup! Yes you would! Yes you would! Yummy, yummy soup!"

Anne and I have been together for 14 years, married for just a few weeks shy of 10 of those years, and it wasn't until that moment that I learned just how much she doesn't like it when people use baby talk with squash. (So just keep in mind, kids: even when you're old like we are, and you've been together for something in the neighborhood of 5000 days, there are still exciting new things to discover about each other.)

A withering glance was delivered, an apology was issued, and a squash was gingerly placed back on the counter without any cooing. Then, a list of needed ingredients was made, taken to the store and filled, and 40 minutes later we were peeling and chopping vegetables for our soup.

Our dog, Riley, came into the kitchen while we worked. "HEY GUISE I WANT TO GO OUTSIDE!" 

"No you don't," I said, scooping seeds out of the squash, "it's cold and windy out there."

"WANT TO GO OUTSIDE! OPEN DOOR NOW PLEASE OKAY!"

"You'd better let her out," Anne said.

"She's just going to turn around and come right back in," I said, but I let her out anyway.

A gust of cold wind blew some leaves into our kitchen, and I closed the door quickly behind her. "Holy crap, it's cold out there," I said.

I took four steps back toward the counter when I heard Riley scratching at the door. I gave Anne the "told you so" look (I learned it by watching her, I swear!) and let Riley back into the house.

"OH MY GOD YOU GUISE IT'S SO COLD AND WINDY OUT THERE!" She said. "DO NOT WANT!"

"I know," I said, and went back to preparing dinner. i didn't bother with the "told you so" look, because dogs just aren't that perceptive.

Now, before I continue my little tale, I should point out that my dog didn't actually speak. Truly, a talking dog would be a wondrous thing, worthy of a special report on the news and millions of dollars in television contracts and merchandising for her owner. No, my dog doesn't exactly speak, but over the years, I have developed an ability to pick up on and translate certain canine behaviors. Okay, back to business:

The vegetables were chopped, the spices were ground, the broth was poured and they were all combined in a large stockpot. Within minutes, our entire house was filled with the delicious and comforting aroma of our impending HARVEST-style meal.

Did I mention that I made Guinness bread? I don't think I did. I guess I should mention that, because it's important: I made Guinness bread, and that was also in the oven while the soup cooked. Seriously, the only thing our house was missing was Hobbits.

While the soup cooked and the bread baked, we cleaned up after ourselves. You know, like grown-ups do. "I think we should puree the soup when it's done," Anne said, as I washed a cutting board.

"That's going to be a problem," I said, "because we only have the blender and it's not nearly big enough for all this soup."

She looked at me, incredulous. "I'm pretty sure we don't have to do it all at once."

I set the cutting board into the drying rack.

"Okay," I said, "we'll puree the soup in the blender."

I thought, but did not say, "WILL IT BLEND?!"

"What are you giggling about?" She asked.

"Nerd stuff."

We had enough time to play a quick gin rummy before the timer went off. We've played a lot of this game, recently, which Nolan, apparently unfamiliar with bridge, has declared is "the official game of old people."

"You take the bread out of the oven," I said after Anne extended her undefeated gin rummy streak well into the double digits, "and I'll start ladling the soup into the blender."

It was a foolproof plan, and the first two cups of soup to be pureed came out beautifully. It smelled so good, my stomach said, "HEY WIL PUT FOOD IN ME RIGHT NOW."

"I'm working on it," I thought (please note that I can talk to my stomach with my thoughts) as I began putting the second batch of soup into the blender.

"You're putting way too much soup in there," Anne said.

"I'm fine," I said, eager to get the pureeing over with so we could get down to the eating part of our dinner. "I'll just hold the lid down when I turn it on."

I pressed the lid down tightly and held it down with my left hand. With my right, I pressed the button marked "puree."

I probably would have taken a moment to stare at the resulting butternut squash soup geyser, if the explosion of hot liquid hadn't burned the hell out of my hand, face, chest, and arm. I probably would have admired the CSI-like splatters of orange puree on the wall, the coffee maker, the microwave, and the refrigerator, if I hadn't been frantically stabbing at the buttons in an effort to silence the whirring blades which created it. But it wasn't until the moment had passed – really just a few seconds of chaos – that I was able to pause and appreciate what had just happened. I mean, it's not every day that a geyser erupts in my kitchen. Thank Steve the Fruitbat.

I turned around and looked at my wife, who appeared to have chosen a seat outside of the splash zone. "Um. I didn't think that would happen."

"Really."

I grabbed a hand towel and wiped myself off. "Yeah. I, um. I thought it would blend."

"Oh it blended. It blended everywhere."

I wiped soup off the wall, the coffee maker, the microwave, and the refrigerator. Our dog came in and helped me clean up some spots I hadn't noticed on the floor.

"I'm sorry about the mess," I said, trying not to sound too much like Han Solo, knowing that I was dangerously close to (deservedly) getting The Wrath.

"Just clean it up so we can finish this and eat, please."

I did, and then I made sure that the remaining soup was pureed no more than 16 ounces at a time. I also held a towel down over the lid, just in case. When we finally ate our bowls of soup – with thick slices of Guinness bread, I might add – it was truly wonderful, and exactly the kind of HARVEST (with jazz hands) meal we wanted … even if I was still cleaning up bits of dried soup off the freezer and dishwasher this morning.

127 thoughts on “in which a tale is told about the preparation of soup”

  1. Duh me. I had the same phenom happen when relatives come here from back East because we have very mild for Canada winters. It would be October and I wrapped up completely and they are still wearing shorts because they think our weather is warm.

  2. That is awesome! My youngest is doing the Trek costume thing this year. He wanted to be Wesley but then decided on Picard and said after he made his decisions two days ago “I have two days to memorize the entire Picard Song. I think Wil would be proud of me.”
    And then he went on to tell me how he is teaching all of his friends about Trek because none of them know anything about Trek and he feels that is a travesty to humanity and has made it his personal mission to make sure all kids know about Trek.

  3. I thought you’d like that. He’s definetly being raised in a cool family, it just caught me off guard. ” You’re a commander, you’re supposed to know that!” Like I am supposed to just know exactly who he was. I want to raise a kid like that, who knows his commanders from his klingons.
    And today I prepared soup ( not in a blender) but I was wearing my command uniform again. There was a knock on the door and I opened it to get a package and the delivery man greeted me with the Vulcan salute so maybe my life is becoming as cool as yours by osmosis through the internet.

  4. I’ve no kids yet but guarenteed I will raise them right. My nephews were spock and batman. I got a second costume this year to wear when I took them out. At my party I was a Starfleet Commander and when I took them trick or treating I was batgirl. Which apparently makes me an awesome aunt because when I was out no parents were with costume and then there was me towing to kids and someone asked me why I dressed up too and the youngest Kyler, goes ” Cause she’s cool like that. ” He’s 4.
    How old’s your son? Did he memorize the song then? That’s great! I’m slowly converting several friends to Trekism…like it’s a religion now.

  5. He is 10.
    I was going to wear one of my costumes tonight when I took him out but it was too bloody cold for that. We went to one house where he was asked to sing for his candy and he wouldn’t. But as soon as we left the house, he started to sing the Picard Song every time we would get out of earshot of adults. He was suppose to go Trick or Treating with friends tonight but he asked me yesterday if I would go with him instead. Made me very happy as soon he will be like his 14 year old brother where it will no longer be cool to be seen in public with your mom.
    That is awesome about your nephew. I hear my children say that about me all the time to their friends.
    YAY Halloween!

  6. Thank you, Wil. I really needed this story today.
    PS: If we could have the Guinness bread recipe, or the source of said recipe, all would be right with the world and inanimate objects would stand up and have jazz hands of their very own. Really, truly.

  7. Wil, there’s a trick you can use to increase your ounces-per-blend next time: if you flip the blender on-off-on at the start — fairly quickly but not super-quickly — the initial splash-up dissipates and you don’t explode. You still can’t do a full blender, but you can get closer to the 60-75% full mark, depending on thickness, heat, etc. I prank you not… try it!

  8. Awesome story. A geyser in the kitchen = pure win. Even if you have to clean it up. This reminds of this one time when I blew up a lightbulb in my closet. I had to sweep up glass, empty little bits of glass out of my shoes, and figure a way to get a the screw part of the bulb out of the socket, but it was all worth it to have a mini fireworks display in my closet.

  9. Wil:
    LOVED the story! I’d have to say that blender soups are my all time favorites. If you don’t make that style a lot, EVERYONE has a blender moment, though. The soup sounds great! I’m going to have to look for it. Whole Foods has a cook book???
    Scott
    P.S. You willing to share the recipe for the Guiness bread? :)

  10. Being the female in this situation many a time, I read this, my brain going, ‘Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…BAM! IN THE FACE!’
    My husband had a scar on his chin from a hot guava pastry for many a moon, another testament to deliciousness winning out over patience. Here’s a future tip for you. Hot sugar is VERY HOT and STICKY to boot. Hotter than anything has any reason to be and sticky.
    Be careful. And way to make Guiness bread!

  11. and it wasn’t until that moment that I learned just how much she doesn’t like it when people use baby talk with squash
    Hey, Wil! Pass me a screenwipe, will ya’? I just sprayed my iMac with tea (Sainsbury’s red label, hot with milk).
    Seriously, hope you weren’t burned bad. Can’t be too bad as you’re typing, but the thought’s there.
    Also, it’s no safer getting it out of a tin. I once used a very cheap (23p) tin opener which opened only 99.8% of the lid of a can of chicken soup. The remaining 0.2% of metal was just enough to make me think I could pop it with thumb pressure – FAIL. Lid gives way, soup emerges from tiny gap between lid and can wall like a musical fountain. Neighbour collapses on floor in fits of laughter, I’m picking chicken meat out of my hair for a week. Not good.

  12. Wow! Thanks for sharing that story, that was great! Not only you wearing a Starfleet uniform, but you got Wesley Crusher! I think I’d fall over and die if that ever happened to me, and I would totally make the parents stick around long enough to ask if I could take their picture. Whether that kid knows it or not, his parents are totally cool for bringing him up as a Trekker. That’s just so full of awesome and win all over the place!

  13. Thinking about your frog, I found an alien (that popped out of my chest) that sang and danced across a diner counter; I don’t really want to talk about it, it was a painful memory.

  14. Roasted Hobbits?!
    Foolish fellow! Everyone knows, you smoke Hobbits. It’s a three step process which begins with brining them with 1/2 cup non-iodized salt, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 quart water; then rinse each piece under cold water, thereafter gently patting dry and laying the pieces on paper towel to air dry for one hour; finally, smoking the Hobbits for about 2 hours at 200 F (Hickory, Alder, Apple, Cherry – whatever wood chips suits your tastes).
    But what to drink? May I suggest a Bollinger, Champagne (France) Brut “Special Cuvée” NV (Imported by Paterno)? Its rich complexity was matched by the rich elegance of the smoked Hobbit.
    Bon Appetit!

  15. Nay, ye skewer the hobbit over an open, merry flame and turn it over and over as the fat and fear drips and sizzles into the fires. Ye baste the hobbit in the gravy of its brothers whilst stuffing it’s mouth with chestnuts it picked that morning. Round and round, your turn the hobbit whilst slicing off a piece here and there to taste. Then ye wash the fatty meat down with the a pitcher of elves’ blood and pick yer yeeth with a pixie…perhaps floss with a wing or two. *urp!* Ahhhh.

  16. I had a similar incident when the weather started to turn chilly in Michigan (back in September). Although, mine was roasted red pepper and not squash.
    As my hands were burning from the soup bits, I wondered a couple things … why did I wait so long to make my meal (as I was starved) and why did I think I could cut corners by putting so much in my blender (which seems to be a popular theme)? My daughter got a big kick out of the mess and was especially pleased since she was not responsible, a rarity. Anyway, it’s good to know I’m not the only goofball who overfills the blender … thanks for the laugh.

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