Leave Takings and a Low-Sodium Soup Base

In recent weeks I've said a lot about the act of coming home, but I've said little about the sad process of leaving a place you love.

On days before departures - departures from France, usually - I feel jittery and empty and I take comfort in small household tasks. On our last night in the Lot Valley, I cobbled together a pot of soup, using a few leftover onions, a cube of chicken bouillon and mozzarella cheese. And lots of water, because the bouillon was salty (we drank water all night long, it seemed). I much prefer my old standby recipe or this cheesy variation I made last year in Paris.

I made garlic toast from the heel of a baguette and we ate the rest of my tarte tatin. We dragged out our last meal in the cozy yellow kitchen, and then walked out to the pool in the dusk to say our goodbyes to the big field and the vineyard and hills beyond it. (The day before, we had finally taken the road that wended its way up there, a one lane road, narrow and twisty like most mountain roads in France, praying we would not meet another vehicle.)

Then we tidied up the kitchen for the last time, and called it an early night. I was torn, wanting to stay and wanting to leave. Fortunately, two days in Paris lie ahead. And then we left all over again.

Leaving home for a trip is exciting. Leaving home and leaving my husband behind, as I did two weeks ago, tears me up until my car turns the corner toward the highway. Then I begin to relish my adventure and my alone-ness. I miss him terribly, of course, and I am always happy to come home again.

For those homecomings, I keep containers of soup base in the freezer, so I can create a quick pot of soup even when je suis fatigué.

My Favorite Low-Sodium Soup Base

  • 2 large potatoes, washed and sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 apple, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 10 cups cold water

Combine all ingredients in large stockpot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-60 minutes. Strain and discard solids. Makes eight cups. I split in half and freeze it if I'm not ready to make soup.

What soup would comfort you tonight?


Judy said…
I love soup on a cold night. I love making stock and freezing it for later. Chicken noodle is my favorite comfort soup. I made Julia's potato leek soup last week and it was so good. I'll be cooking the turkey carcass making stock for the freezer too.
Judy, I love the ritual of making soup from the turkey carcass. It fills me with contentment.

I love chicken noodle, too. With peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.
It makes me feel good to know somebody else feels the loss of leaving and the excitement of adventure all at the same time. We have a favorite dish I always try to have waiting in the freezer when we return from a trip. It makes everything work better.
Now that's a good idea, Tanna. This time, I made sure we had a favorite brand on frozen pizza on hand for the night we got home, but neither one of us was hungry.
Soup is always comforting. I often make a huge pot of black beans in the slow cooker, and freeze the cooked beans alongside my frozen containers of chicken stock. Combine the two, and I'm 99% of the way to a great soup.
TNelson said…

Thanks so much for this soup base recipe. I looked at stock recipes this past week-end but they all seemed so daunting that I gave up without even trying. This looks like a good way to get started. I really messed up a batch of French onion soup last Sunday (It was so bad I had to pitch it - we had take out sandwiches for dinner). I am definitely trying your cheesy onion soup this week end - I have lots of frozen cheese rinds to use. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
Lydia, that's a great idea! I may do that this weekend, if I have time.

Trish, this one is really super easy. With HBP in the family, I look for low sodium all the time, and just add a little fleur de sel (a little goes a long way).
toni said…
My husband was a master soup maker. Just about anything and everything went into his soups, which were often more like stews. What would comfort me would be to have one of his soups again.
Oh, Toni, I would like that for you, too.



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