She gave me soup

Creamy, dreamy navy bean soup. Photo from Food So Good

What do you eat when you’re sick? … Chicken noodle soup.
What do you teach a kid to dunk their grilled cheese into? … Good ole tomato soup.
What food can help a child learn their ABC’s? … Alphabet soup.

See the commonality to all of these answers?

Soup. Beautiful, wonderful, warm, smoothing soup.

I’m not implying that soup is the answer to all life’s questions, comforts and character building moments (otherwise Campbell’s would be a miracle company), but I am suggesting that soup has certain properties that soften us, binding memories to our hearts.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the foods my mom used to make when I was young. Although my dad was an excellent cook, my mom was the one who almost always made dinner. And most of the time, she was twirling a wooden spoon through a simmering batch of soup.

She made so many soups. And I never really got tired of them. Vibrant green split pea, silky tomato and snow pea, hearty Hungarian mushroom … *Whoops – I think I started to drool.

But the soup I was the most fond of was her navy bean, slightly rich from the beans that would soften to create a creamy base and filled with tender bits of ham, onion and carrots that always retained the perfect amount of crispness.

I’m not sure how many times I consumed her navy bean soup, but I can assure you it graced our family table a healthy number of times. It was a meal that made me feel cozy in the Fall and Winter, one that was filling without weighing me down and one that was perfect for plunking in pieces of corn bread.

The sad thing is that I don’t know how my mom made her navy bean soup. While I must have been in the kitchen a dozen times while she made it, I was too young and too unobservant to remember how she performed her soup-making magic. And the fact that my mom never used recipes, or wrote down the ingredients and amounts for her own creations, also makes recreating her soups a wee bit of a challenge.

So more often than not, when I’m craving my mom’s navy bean soup, it remains just that – a craving.

Oddly enough, today happened to be one of those days, but I didn’t tell anyone. It would be a rather odd thought to interject into a conversation (although, I can pull out some random tidbits when I talk to people).

But when I was sitting on the couch tonight, reading my book and icing my knee, I heard a knock on the door. It was Connie, my honorary grandma and wonderful adventure partner.

When I opened the door, she handed me a container and said, “I thought you might enjoy this tonight.”

I looked inside and my heart dropped. It was soup, but not just any soup. She made me navy bean.

Whether God gave her a download or she was having her own navy bean craving, I praise God and thank her for bringing me a taste from my past – a taste of my mom and a reminder of the awesome powers of food, especially soup, and the healing that comes when we share food with those we care for.

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