My wife turned toward me and asked that fatal question. No, not “how does this look?” The other question. Having just finished our coffee, we were two love-abiding citizens sitting in the kitchen of our contentment. She looked in the refrigerator as if it would provide an answer to her question and then shifted her attention to me. I could hear the matrimonial metronome ticking. I could feel us dancing to the rhythm of an unspoken dialogue indigenous to couples who have been together a long time. I could see by her facial expression that she wasn’t in the mood for yet another peanut butter and jelly or cheese sandwich. Cold air was taking a bite out of a May day. Definitely not yogurt and fruit, either. I could hear myself saying yes before she asked what she should take for lunch. Yes, I will make soup.
Guided by the vision of a warm flame, I gathered a bunch of beets and a scattering of turnips. I always have what seems like an inexhaustible supply of organic carrots because I buy 10 lb. bags from Costco, so I pulled out 3 or 4 carrots. I grabbed a head of cabbage because I wanted to throw a little into the mix. Beets and cabbage does not a borscht make. (If you are having a problem making sense of that sentence, try reading it aloud with a Yiddish accent.) I could’ve easily pulled out two other vegetables from the fridge. Or I could’ve taken out a bowl of cooked wheat berries. But I was after the comfort of the colors red and orange.
Potluck. That’s the best way to describe my method of making soup. And, so far, it’s been a big pot of luck. Ask my wife, she’s the one not eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.
Off the Beet‘n Path Soup
1 bunch of beets (3-4 beets), chopped
3-4 turnips, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, diced
6-7 cups of water
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 onions, diced
3 or more large garlic cloves, chopped
orange zest (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking for another five minutes. Stir in celery and cook briefly before adding water. Add beets, turnips, and carrots. Cook until vegetables start softening, about 20-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add orange zest (optional).