Thursday, February 24, 2011

Comfort Food

Soup. It’s a staple of my fall and winter menus.

There’s sure to be a pot of Chicken Noodle simmering on the back burner the first cold, rainy day in October and a crock-pot of spicy-hot Chili the day after the first frost. We celebrate the first snowfall with Beef Stew or a Creamy Wild Rice, and when winter turns dark and long, a Savory Cheese or Mushroom-Potato Chowder helps us appreciate the season for what it is.

This soup season’s been a particularly long one but only partly because of the sub-zero temperatures.
Last fall, one friend had major surgery; another missed several weeks of work to care for her husband; and a third fought a round against breast cancer. Since late-January, my community has struggled with the deaths of two young people. One, a suicide. The other, taken off life support after a five-year fight.

I’ve been part of several conversations these past months that invoked God’s will and the mystery of His ways. Each was filled with more questions than answers, more searching than finding. And each reminded me that I cannot begin to understand “why.”

But soup, I understand.

And I find that the simple, repetitive motions of chopping and slicing and stirring and thickening fill the emptiness created by these questions-without-answers. I often double the recipe during these cooking sessions so, in addition to dinner for my family, there’s a meal for a friend. Support, in lieu of answers.

Chop. Slice. Brown. Stir.
A rolling boil.

And then, peace.
I’ve come to the recipe’s final instruction: Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.