Saving Soup

In a little swampy swamp just down the road, the peepers have finally started singing their spring song. For those who are unfamiliar with peepers, here is what they look and sound like. Peepers are tiny—one inch according to National Geographic-–but when they sing together, they make a sound and a fury. Clif and I wait for their song every year, and it wouldn’t be spring in Maine without peepers.

A post or two back, I wrote about giving a toy dinosaur to the boy next door for his birthday. Via Facebook messaging, his mother sent me a short video she made of him thanking us for the dinosaur. He was wearing a dinosaur t-shirt and was holding the dinosaur we had given him. Oh, that made us smile. Ingenuity in this time of the coronavirus.

On Facebook I also read some sad news. Scrummy Afters Candy Shoppe is closing their sweet little store in Hallowell. Recently, I posted a picture of some of the delectable chocolates that I had ordered online and had come through the mail. Here they are again. After all, who gets tired of looking at pictures of chocolate?

Fortunately, Scrummy’s is not going out of business entirely. They will continue to have an online store and a Scrummy’s van that will go to events when they are allowed to do so. But still, a blow for Hallowell, and I fear a harbinger of things to come for many small businesses.

But I am going to end this post on an upbeat note of how I saved some soup I made at the beginning of the week. It was a white bean soup. I simmered three cups of white beans, and when they were tender, I dumped them into a crock-pot. I added a bay leaf, dried thyme, sage, oregano, a little soy sauce, celery, and carrots. Onion and garlic and more water. When it was done, a half-cup of nutritional yeast.

And how did the soup taste? Well, it was edible, but it was blah. The thought of eating this for the next few days did not excite me. In truth, it filled me with a sort of dread.

But then I remembered something that the cook Samin Nosrat explained in her excellent series Salt Fat Acid Heat. That is, most soups and dishes benefit from a dose of something acidic. Lemon would have been perfect for this Mediterranean-flavored soup, but I did not have lemons.

I did, however, have diced canned tomatoes, which are acidic. I didn’t want the soup’s flavor to be dominated by tomatoes, but what if I added two cups to this big batch of soup? What then?

I’ll tell you what then—those tomatoes saved the soup without overpowering it. It jazzed up the soup in exactly the right way. No longer did I dread eating that soup until it was gone.

Instead, I actually looked forward to it. Clif felt the same way, and we ate every single bit.

I think this falls under the category of an old dog learning a new trick.

47 thoughts on “Saving Soup”

  1. Lockdowns bring out creativity, unfortunately for a lot of businesses creativity is not enough and they will not survive the pandemic. I have a couple of songs with toads and frogs croaking under Music on my blog if you are interested (music with coyotes, cats and owls, also). Your white bean soup looks good.

  2. I’ve heard the peepers near my sweetheart’s house, I think. Thank you their name. You would never guess they were frogs if you didn’t know. Your soup story made me laugh. I reconstituted a ten bean mix a few months ago and it made an inordinate amount of soup, which gave me a similar unexcited feeling. I’m glad you managed to liven up yours.

  3. Our peepers finally started about 10 days ago and it was a sound for tired ears to enjoy! What I find interesting is that a pond near a friend’s house about 2 miles away, had their peepers singing at least a month ago. I can never figure it out, but I am out every night with the dog and I wait eagerly for them every year.

  4. I love to hear the peepers–we have them near here *although there are no ponds* and they have been on and off this year, since it has been freezing at night, sort of sugaring weather. With all the cooking I’ve been doing, happy experiments have evolved, including the ‘can of tomatoes being useful’ trick–I had avoided it because the spouse doesn’t usually eat them due to acidity, but in our case it did work well too. Enjoy the soup!

  5. The ๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ music of the peepers is something I also look forward to every spring. The soup looks delicious!

  6. I am sorry to hear your favorite chocolate store is closing.

    I don’t know if you have ever cooked with lovage, a celery-like herb that is a perennial. I use that in a lot of soups and stews, and it can add another dimension. You won’t need much, it is strong! We have a half-barrel of it planted here.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovage

    Tomatoes, as you found, are an excellent source of acid. We can crushed tomatoes from the garden every year and use them for a base for many dishes.

  7. I miss peepers! I used to live in Virginia. We moved there in late winter and hearing the peepers when spring arrived is one of my favorite memories (after a hellaceous move from Ohio during the gas shortages of ’74, with a preschooler and and infant). Do you listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me? Samin Nosrat was the guest for “not my job” a few weeks ago. Very funny. You can find old episodes on NPR’s website. Your soup sounds yummy.

  8. Oh, we listen for the peepers every year – they are our harbinger of spring, as well. I didn’t know everyone called them that – I sort of thought it was a made up thing around here – or in my family. Like – I grew up calling cicadas “locusts.”

    Sorry about the chocolate shop, Laurie. It’s a brutal time for small businesses. And, sadly, they are the part of the charm of this country.

    Great save on the soup! I make a lot of bean soup, and I always seem to make a tad more than I want. Luckily, I have a dog. : ) But I will try the tomato addition next time!

    1. I think their official “common” name is eastern peepers.

      Yes, a brutal time for small businesses. And our country makes it more brutal. Boy, am I hoping for a change.

      Try tomato next time. What a difference!

  9. Sorry to hear about Scrummy’s, but hopefully, online orders will keep them going. Our small businesses are definitely taking a hit. I miss going to restaurants, and while some are offering take-out, it isn’t the same as an evening, or lunch, out with waitress service. I miss the social interaction. Sigh. We are all adjusting to the new rules.

  10. Hi, Laurie – I totally agree about most soups needing a bit of something acidic to brighten them up, Tomatoes are a great choice, as are lemons, limes, vinegar, sauerkraut (particular good with lentil soup) and pickled red onions (lovely with black bean soup). The otptions are (almost) endless. Glad that you saved the soup!

  11. I love hearing peepers. I could play that little sample over and over. I’m glad you were able to fix your soup. Sometimes it doesn’t take much. It’s too bad about the chocolatiers; I hope they do good business by mail and at fairs.

  12. Those peepers are such fun. Something new to me too (the joy of blogging, as we have said before, is that you get introduced to new stuff all the time). So glad you rescued the soup.

  13. We have a little tree frog, about an inch long, that can make quite a racket, but I’m not sure they’re the same as your peepers. I have heard that peeper sound, but it was in the east Texas woods, and in Louisiana. Around here, the sound is just slightly different — but just as pleasant!

  14. I am receiving so many emails from (mostly) fabric and yarn shops, you won’t be surprised to hear, who are really pushing online sales in order to survive the storm. As a lot of people are ordering more online than usual, hopefully it will help them keep going when things get back to ‘normal’.
    We get toads rather than frogs – I don’t know why – not quite as cute but useful for slug control and the cats don’t mess with them as they tend to do with the poor lizards.

    1. I hope those shops are able to pull through this terrible time. We get lots of toads, too, and I like them just as well as I do frogs. I understand that toads do not taste good to dogs, which I view as a good thing.

  15. It’s lovely to hear the peepers Laurie and I wish Scrummy’s every success with their online and events van business. I’m a great fan of adding lovage to soups and I’m glad the tomatoes added a delightful new flavour ๐Ÿงก xxx

    1. To me, the peepers sing a song of spring, their high, lovely voices foretell a time of flowers and vegetables and days on the patio. I will certainly keep lovage in mind.

  16. I was outside digging yesterday and found a little critter and enjoyed watching him for a while and made sure he had a spot to go back to. Sorry to hear about your favorite chocolate store, but I think you’re right and we’re going to see a lot more of that.

  17. Your soups looks and sounds delicious. I’ve been pondering the dried white beans I have in the cupboard, wondering what I’ll do with them. A soup, for sure, but what will go in it?

    I fear we’re going to lose a few good businesses as this goes on. But at least there are spring peepers and tomatoes to add to soups. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. The sound of peepers is so welcome. They’ve been spotty here this spring–just like the weather. Love to see your soup in the blueberry bowl made by my neighbor!

  19. Judy’s been making lots of bean soups in her instant pot. Tomatoes are a good addition to soups far more often than not. Also greens. What Judy and I can’t agree on is sliced kosher hot dogs. I think they are good in soups like split pea, I guess because that’s what my mother did. She is inflexibly opposed to hot dogs in soups.

  20. I’ve been afraid to think what is going to happen to so many small businesses along our wonderful Main Streets that have found so many ways to survive over the years, but may not have an answer for what is currently occurring. I’m glad the candy shop is still finding ways to stay in business. Every night when I’m standing outside with Harper we have the singing peepers as a soundtrack.

  21. Weโ€™ve been eating a lot of bean soup lately. I like lime juice in it, and yogurt if we have any (since shopping is nerve wracking now, we have been doing without some things). Chef Allan put canned tomatoes in the latest batch and they did indeed make a difference.

    1. Oh, and our peepers start so much earlier than yours, I think around the end of February. Pacific tree frogs, and of course it is so much milder here.

      1. Lovely to hear them whenever they come out. Yes, Maine’s climate is much colder than yours is. We like to think of ourselves as North of North.

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