Simple pleasures

Lemongrass and ginger soup

Soup is troubling. When is it lunch and when is it just a hot drink? There is the thick, blitzed to a purée type, imagine a carrot or tomato soup, a butternut squash one, the kind you may serve cold when the baby moves on to solids.

Then the one full of things, a minestrone for example, or a Greek three bean soup where there is plenty going on and there is actual food in the bowl, albeit sitting in liquid. Or the thin broth, the miso soup-type of soup and the consommé. (Let’s leave summer soups out of this. They are even odder, even though a gazpacho on a stiflingly hot day is delicious when someone else has made it and you’ve gone round for lunch. And it’s a starter; something to be got out the way so you can get to the main bit –usually starters and puddings are the most fun bits of the meal, but not in soup’s case. It’s watching Steps warm up for Fleetwood Mac– think of the disappointment of going to lunch at someone’s house to be given only cold soup.)

Leaving aside the minestrone, is soup only filling when you have bread with it? In which case, what you are really having is bread for lunch, with a hot drink on the side. And yet I made two soups yesterday, both with the leftovers from the Sunday roast chicken.

Miso soup is something I have every day around lunchtime. But not as lunch, more as if it were a glass of tea. And the roast carrot and asparagus soup was a moral decision to use up the leftovers. I had very small bowl of that as a little snack, standing resting against the kitchen counter. It was laced with za’atar and harissa and was completely delicious. Warming and comforting with a few toasted almonds on top for crunch.

The other one was the usual miso, a milk pan’s worth of chicken stock but this time simmering with slices of fresh ginger, a chilli and a few sticks of dried lemongrass that I bought fresh a month or two ago and forgot about in the veg. basket, with the miso paste stirred in at the end. I drank that from a tall, thick glass, the type you may have a milkshake in. It felt like I was drinking eternal life. Perfect for a freezing cold January day as a hot tonic. Definitely not as lunch.

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