Here's what's going on. I'm sick. It is a straightforward cold, complete with the cloudy weight of congestion, which makes me fairly certain of what it would be like to walk around with my head in a full fishbowl, and rather uncertain as to whether I put detergent in with the wash.
I am, at present, crazy for masala chai and comfy woollen socks that are a little too big. It's kind of boring.
I did make myself some soup yesterday. Do you ever get that way when you're under the weather? Confident that a specific ingredient is the only thing to restore you to ruddy-cheeked health? Well, yesterday, that ingredient for me was cabbage and the conveyance of the brassica clearly needed to be soup. I was absolutely positive that would be the poultice for what ailed me.
It was the ugliest soup on record.
In my fishbowl-brain it all made sense. While I often crave the slicing heat of chili when sick, yesterday I yearned for soothing. I was all about an onion soup at first — I remember reading in a cookbook that at Les Halles, porters at the famed Paris market used to keep off the bitter cold of winter mornings with mugs of soup à l'oignon. I felt in need of such protection.
Somehow my French notion studied abroad for a year, as an Italianate influence worked its way into our pot. A thought of Italian cabbage and bread soups tempted, and I got stuck on the promise of skinny slices of savoy, stewy and supple, slurpable like vegetable noodles — without being noodle-y.*
There was my plan: equal parts onion and cabbage, with the onion cooked until almost caramelized first (only blonde, as I didn't want the assertive personality of truly-bronzed onions), then in would go the savoy and a bit of flour for weight, and then some chicken stock. And oh, a rind of Parmesan could be tucked in too, to melt and mingle in with everything else.
That's pretty much what I did.
The soup burbled genially for a good half hour; the vegetables lolled about in their warm bath and became pliant. I was left with a wan tangle of stuff, not all that exciting to the eye, and I began to worry.
Right at the finish, I rubbed a miserly nub of garlic against some toasted bread and floated it upon a ladled mugful of the soup, then grated a mix of Gruyère and Parmesan atop, and introduced the lot of them to the broiler. After their brief meeting, the soup emerged a bit more golden for the appointment but still kind of boring. Much like my cold.
I tried to take a photo, even attempting a sidelong approach, hoping if you caught the soup out of the corner of your eye, it would somehow give the illusion of being more beautiful than it was.
You'll note there's only a picture of cabbage here today. That should tell you how those attempts went.
I'm still telling you about the soup though, as I think it was a good start. It was blessedly warming, and its paleness belied the fact it was unexpectedly rich, and the bread sogged into the broth in a way that sounds unappealing but gave appreciated substance. And then there's that bolstering feeling of virtue that always seems to come along when we remember to eat our greens. It might not have beauty, but it had character. And it made me feel better, which was the whole point. It's a good beginning.
A beginning is something. We can work on looks. Talk again soon.
*With that astute commentary and use of "noodle-y" I've reached the pinnacle of my literary career. Thanks y'all for putting up with my nattering.