I don’t know about you, but I certainly identify more with living to eat than eating to live.
Surely my love affair with food is another reason I am such a Francophile. The only problem is I am an on-again, off-again pescetarian. Not to insult any reader’s intelligence, but just in case, pescetarian means the only meats I consume are fish and seafood. Sometimes I get a blank stare when I use that word, hence the explanation.
Anyways. Food! Love it! I also love cooking and baking but it’s definitely one of those things I cannot do when I am already hungry. If I find myself ravenous upon entering a kitchen, generally I consume half a box of crackers, or all of the leftovers in my fridge whilst standing up. It’s kind of a scary sight. BUT if I manage to get into a kitchen with a teeny appetite or none at all, then I can cook for hours. And be set on meals for a week. It’s great. Today I did just that.
I recently finished My life in France, Julia Child’s memoirs of the years she and her husband Paul spent abroad.
Cover of Julia Child's wonderful memoir of living, cooking and eating in France
Like everything she did/touched/cooked, My life in France is a gem. Although I must admit that at times, the book gave me a tummy ache. Aversion to meat notwithstanding, it just became a little exhausting to read description after description after description after description after description…you get my point…of rich meals. After a bit of time-distance between finishing the book and wanting to cook, I wandered into my kitchen last night. I can’t drive anywhere right now (long story) so I had to make do with what I had:
Beans for making soup. A can of tomato soup. Almond milk. Eggs. Tofu hot-dogs. Don’t judge me on that last one.
Lacking inspiration, I absentmindedly flipped over the bag of beans and studied the recipe for “Ham-hock and bean soup.” Ick. I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be snobby but the word “hock” just sounds gross. In addition to the beans and the hock of ham, it called for water, canned or stewed tomatos, fresh garlic, chili powder and lemon juice. Never one to admit defeat or waste, I decided to substitute my can of tomato soup in for the stewed tomatoes and hope for the best. In between watching “The prince and me” movies (Again. Please don’t judge. I love a good princess story.), I poured the beans out of the bag, threw out the “ham flavoring” package with disgust, ran water over the yummy legumes, realized my pot wasn’t nearly large enough and divvied up the beans and proceeded to soak the little guys over night. Following a yummy brunch of blueberry pancakes (ahh, the joy of boarding school living), I set to simmering the beans for two and a half hours. Then I added in my tomato soup, a little bit of rice (I read somewhere you can’t get the benefit of beans’ protein without consuming them with a carbohydrate) extra chili powder, garlic and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.
While I have nothing on Julia (I am sure she wouldn’t have touched canned tomato soup with a ten-foot pole), the soup actually turned out much yummier than I anticipated. I was worried the complete difference in liquidity between stewed tomatoes and tomato soup concentrate would really throw it off. A tad bit of extra water seemed to do the trick during the last bit of simmering time. I already enjoyed a bowl for dinner and certainly have my dinners taken care of for the rest of the week…and beyond. If anyone I work with or know in the vicinity happens to be reading this, by all means ask me for some soup. I would love nothing more than to share my creation with you.