I have become a fan of the moral philosophy of soup.
Oh, I realize you think that I’m crazy. How on earth can there be a philosophy of soup. What is moral about soup? All great philosopher’s write some sort of treatise. Here I shall give you the moral philosophy of soup.
Soup starts from a whole chicken in my freezer. Defrosted in my fridge. Dumped into a big pot. Herbs, cut from my garden. Left to simmer in a very large pot I hauled up from the basement. Simmer for 12 hours. Put it on the burner, pay it only a bit of mind. Really, make sure it doesn’t burn and the house doesn’t start on fire.
Put it somewhere cool so the fat solidifies. Scoop that off. Save it in a bowl for the dog. Take the carcass out. Wash your hands. Carefully pull the bones out. Return the meat to a bowl.
Strain the broth, put it back in the pot. Bring it to a boil. Turn off the stove. Crush egg shells and use those to clarify the broth. Strain the soup again. Consider the vegetables in your fridge. Choose them. It’s ok if they are a bit past their prime. Sharpen knives. Cut the vegetables. Make sure the pieces are the same size. Cut two leeks and some onion. Sweat them in the frying pan until they soften. Slowly let them brown. Deglaze the pan with sherry.
Return the meat to the pot with the vegetables and the leeks and onions. Let it simmer for another few hours.
Soup is a series of small tasks. Taking not the best, but what you have. Soup takes time. It cannot be rushed. When I do soup well, there’s a meditative quality about it. What ever else I do in that time, I am building soup.
The soup will be imperfect. I’ll taste it and I’ll think that it needed a bit more thyme, a bit more salt. I’ll wish I had a bit of celery.
My soup was a way to reconnect. To use my time and my talents and the fruit of a summer’s labour in the garden. It was grounding – I stayed close to home and left it simmering on the back burner, always a bit aware of it. Soup was a way to rebuild sanctuary and calm after a terrible week. Some of it will go to a sick friend as an act of care. Soup is a hedge, an act of self care. Next week with 8,000 words of final papers will be no less stressful.
Perhaps my philosophy is not so much a philosophy of soup, but a philosophy of little things done with effort. The morality of doing what you can, imperfectly, with what you have. The work of grounding and mindfulness as you do one thing, with many steps to build something greater than what you started with.
Philosophy, all of what I read, talks about great things. Hard decisions. It asks enormous questions – who am I? Why am I here? Where are we going? How should we live?
I have no answers for that.
I have the philosophy of soup.