Being alone the past week and looking ahead to a few more days of solitude, I did my usual Friday evening routine with a store-bought roasted chicken (we call them huli huli) and some Blockbuster videos. I boiled down the carcass today for a soup base--the real reason I buy these chickens, which while tasty, are actually overcooked. Gleaning the
fridge for soup material I find a stalk of celery, an onion, a couple of carrots. In they go, with some fresh ground pepper and red Hawaiian salt. And then what? I thought maybe some rice, but the leftover basmati (delicious and expensive) has gone off, so I am left with a can of pinquitos and a can of canned chicken, to beef it up, so to speak.
Ah, and I forgot until I just now gave it a stir, the little bit of fresh rosemary, and a few chunks of fresh ginger. It's gonna be good with the Fat Cat cabernet I set aside, a decent cheap California wine that comes with a real cork.
My mother never used a piece of fresh ginger in her life, (to say nothing of garlic, we weren't that kind of people--aha, must go add a clove of garlic). Ginger meant gingerbread, and that's all. And you did that with powdered ginger, at best, or a box mix. I use ginger a lot; in an Asian rice culture it is as ubiquitous as salt and pepper, and more elegant in flavor. I use more garlic and ginger in a week than my mother used in her entire life.
On the other hand, she made the best crab cakes in the world. I grew up thinking that everyone knew what Old Bay seasoning was. And liver dumplings -- I have her recipe for those as well, but I haven't made them in years: I am afraid of liver. Too toxic. The last liver I ate was of a deer that a friend collected as road kill and then butchered surreptitiously in our barn. It was not hunting season. It was fine meat.
The soup I make is like road kill out of my refrigerator. I have some cookbooks that have traditional soup recipes that are complicated and precise. I doubt that the origins of soup making were that proscribed. Soup is cooking up what you've got on hand and being able to make it taste good. Hopefully nutritious too.
Soup is art.