Posts Tagged ‘soup’

Cooking for Friends

January 11, 2011

I hadn’t seen Phillip in at least a few months when he called me earlier this week. Schedules fill up, obligations take over, and before you know it, you and your friends exist in completely different dimensions. Let’s have dinner, I said, and we made plans to go out.

Despite those plans, the urge for soup had overcome me. It’s been cold in San Francisco lately – San Francisco cold, mind you, but it’s damp and 49 degrees seeps into you in a way the cold in Alaska never did – and I had a full container of dried canellini beans and a fresh bunch of kale and somehow the day just called for soup. I put the beans on to soak after giving them a quick boil and made my way to the produce market to grab a few extra items for dinner: a baguette, a bottle of pinot grigio, and a pound of Italian sausage.

As the afternoon progressed, the soup began coming together. In addition to chicken stock – store bought, I have to confess even though there was freshly made stock in the freezer –  I added onions, garlic, rosemary, oregano, and a bay leaf and let them simmer for a while along with the beans. I began thinking of serving dessert, too, and found a friend’s recipe for a citrus cake  except that I didn’t have limes or lemons but I did have blood oranges, and I began pulling that together, too.

Eventually, sausage and carrots and kale made their way into the soup and I mashed up some of the beans to thicken it, the cake was baked and then drenched with a syrup of orange juice and sugar, and Phillip arrived, pleased to find out he’d be eating homemade – he’s not a cook – rather than going out. The apartment was filled with the smells of soup and baking. I poured some wine, pulled the baguette from the oven, and began dishing out the soup. I’d already placed a small Japanese rice bowl filled with black and green olives on the table and we began to eat.

The conversation, freed from the rigors of trying to figure out where to go for dinner, flowed and we caught up on our activities of the past few months. I’d been traveling and he had lots of questions about Mexico and I told him about Tijuana and what an ugly city it is but how lively and wonderful it is, too. We talked about the concerts I saw there and the galleries and the museum and the food and I promised to show him photos from both my trips there.

The soup was good – more rosemary and some lemon would have made it better – and Phillip was pleased with the kale. We drank more wine and ate more olives and then it was on to dessert and photos of Tijuana and Naples and Capri and the discussion about aging parents and relatives.

The soup, I think, facilitated all the talking. Soup does that, especially thick wintery soups.