22 Oct 2014

Good soup


I wrote about my Mam's vegetable soup back in January 2011, just a few months after I started the hungry writer blog while living in France. It's a post I'm particularly fond of and a few other people liked it too. Here's one of the comments it received:

My house (in Ames, Iowa,USA) is filled this frigid January night with the heady and hearty scents of your Mam's Vegetable Soup - this weekend's treat to me.

How lovely is that?! 

'The fragrance, the tenderness.' the blogpost ends, literally and metaphorically. And they are present too every time I make it and serve it.

I made it recently for a friend of Tony's who's had 8 sessions of chemotherapy this year and will not let cancer get the better of him. I am sure he has his dark days, disappointments and fears, yet he smiles and jokes with us and gollops up Mam's soup sprinkled with parsley and Parmesan, dunking chunks of crusty bread into the broth, then digs into the cheese plate (Cheddar, Cheshire and Gorgonzola) and lamb's lettuce salad, and tops his meal off with a cup of green tea to celebrate the news that his recent scan showed no progression.

'That is the best possible lunch you could have made for me,' he said. The fragrance, the tenderness. 

Hungry Writing Prompt
Write about a single act of tenderness

We have to allow other people's positive thinking to be contagious, for them and for ourselves. A Facebook friend recently updated their status complaining about inspirational quotes, about how damn depressing and irritating the ooze of them across the internet can be. No. I won't let myself agree. Even if the sentiment feels too easy. Even if I scroll past a lot of them myself. I won't slam them or the people posting them. Every drop of good feeling matters. 


The above and following photos are from The Secrets of Pistoulet, a magical illustrated little book of contemporary fables all about making soup and making people feel better. There are decorative transparent pages, a pull-out letter, recipe cards in envelopes and a bubbling pot of uplifting, inspirational quotes. 

'Strong is the hand that lifts the soul.' 'Passionate choices have potent consequences.' 'Clarity of the mind brings a moment of grace.'

The recipe instructions are quirky, flirty and fun. The 'Potage of Vision' instructs: Go to the farmer's market and look for the farmer with the clearest and most penetrating eyes. 

I shall try that out at West Malling's Farmers' Market at the end of this month! 

On the last page the author and illustrator, Jana Kolpen, has written: Peace to all creatures great and small. On the home page of her website you read this: Art that makes you smile. 

I've said it once already. How lovely is that.