You ever have one of those days, or maybe even weeks, where you feel like a rain cloud, with all its thunder and all its lightening, all its rain and all its hail, is constantly lingering above you? And there’s not a single umbrella or raincoat that you can use to deflect the storm?
This is one of those weeks for Ash Abbey, and that’s why I’ll be taking the reigns on this post today.
I won’t plug you into the details of my ridiculous speeding ticket and the phone calls from friends of the past, but I will place you into my yesterday and into my kitchen where I was creating this soup to make a warming post for you all — which this is! But not entirely what I had in mind…
I was groggy. I had not had a morning to sleep-in for what feels like months. And honestly, I have been quite fine with that. I am currently in a very new work environment for me at the homey and aromatic Anthropologie, and as I’ve just started a few weeks ago (will soon be promoted to a new position as Manager in Training (!!)) I can say for the first time ever that “I love my job.” But through the welcoming laughs and stories shared with my new Anthro fam, I’m discovering that retail hours are a lil’ crazy. My lil’ 8-5 pm working body is a lil’ shaken and as the holidays approach, the customer questions, concerns, smiles, and even frowns are multiplying.
But I had the day off and rolled out of bed at 9:23 am. WOWWW. Whoa. Amazing. My usual awakening is between 5:00 – 6:00 am. SLEPT IN! But to be honest with you, sleeping in is a bit bittersweet for me as I feel rested (boy, do I feel rested), but I lost three-two hours of my day that I’m SO incredibly used to and certainly enjoy, so it puts me a little off my game.
Regardless, I slumped into the kitchen in my fleece PJs and fueled up on a breakfast, slowly eating my cereal as I try to mentally prepare myself for a workday in the kitchen. Allison and I had worked on altering one of our momma’s Tuscan-like soup recipes after pulling out some of the goodies from our Steadfast Farm CSA box: sonara wheat berries, collard greens, white garlic (all three in this soup!!), red leaf lettuce, Italian eggplant, dill, and sunflower sprouts.
I opened up my laptop to pull up the recipe we had worked on and waited…and waited…for my Google Docs to load…internet’s being buggy again. And remember how stoked you were a couple years ago, Ash, when you got this Chromebook? Loving the convenience of a non-bulky, internet-based device?? (Still is the best coffee shop buddy!) But now you always need that wireless connection to write up anything… Moral of this: Al and I should really call those Centurylink guys…
Anyway…waiting for the document. There it is. Ingredients are ready to review: nope, don’t have that, or that, or that, OOOHH but I have those! and that…? Maybe? Has to be in this pantry somewhere…nope…
I zoomed on over to Fry’s after taking a picture of the ingredients list on my phone, thinking I’ll know and remember what I truly needed to get. Grabbed the celery, the vegetable broth, and even a few apples as I saw that shiny pyramid of galas and thought of what a perfect snack they’ll make for the next couple days. Pay. Leave. Back at the house.
My apron is not on, but my hands go to work. Vegetables are chopping, kitchen devices are out, I’m snapping pictures here and there of the process and COOL. No beans. NO BEANS. This soup will be nothing but Tuscan if I have no beans. How did I miss that on the list as I was shopping…
I looked at the large mess in the kitchen, at the carrots and celery and garlic that are already cooking away on the stove.
This soup has to have beans. It has to.
I clicked off the stove, threw my purse on my shoulder, snagged my keys and rushed out the door. Grudgingly, I quickly moved my body to the car, almost too frustrated to put on my seat belt.
Beans. Grabbed. Paid. Out. Back to the house.
As I returned to my spot in the kitchen, I reached the stage in my soup making where the wheat berries must cook for about 30-40 minutes. I’ve snapped as many pictures as could, feeling semi-proud, and considered this a time to just relax in one of our broken bar chairs.
I peered down at the piece of paper we pulled from our mom’s hand-me-down recipe binder that had the original soup recipe on it with traces of her handwriting. Thinking of her warmth and positivity, I suddenly thought: isn’t this soup just perfect?
A soup is a dish that can combine all the bitter things, hot things, spicy things, sweet things, pleasant things. These all mix together in the boiling chaos, much like a bad day or a chaotic stressed mind, but in the end it all comes together in a delicious, hearty, and happy soup.
And for the first time this week, I allowed myself to feel comforted by that. In the craziness of life, in the mixing of all the stresses and frustrations and changes, these events all blend together to create one beautiful thing: you. You and your life. There is a light and there is a bit of reason to it all. A precious thing to remind ourselves when we just can’t seem to snap up that umbrella or when that zipper breaks on your trusted raincoat.
Vegetable Wheat Berry Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 gloves garlic, minced
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup wheat berries, dried
1 can white beans (cannellini beans)
1 cup chopped roma tomatoes
6 cups chopped collard greens (remove the thick stems and chop in bite-sized pieces)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
Toppings + Sides:
1 artisan wheat baguette + 1 tbsp olive oil
Your favorite cheese grated
1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add in the onion, celery, and carrots and cook until tender, 5-6 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
4. Add the broth and cover the pot. Bring the liquid to a bowl now over high heat.
5. Stir in the wheat berries and simmer until they have cooked and are tender, about 35-40 minutes.
6. Transfer about 3 cups of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the blended soup to the soup pot and stir well. Add in the beans, tomatoes, and collard greens. Add in the salt, pepper, and rosemary. Cook all until the collard greens are tender, about 10-12 minutes.
7. As the soup finishes cooking, turn your oven onto broil. On a baking sheet place sliced pieces of the baguette and drizzle with olive oil. Place under the broiler for about 4-7 minutes, until the edges have browned. Watch carefully as to not burn the bread.
8. Enjoy! Serve warm in your favorite bowl, topped with grated cheese and served with a piece of bread.
9. You can store the remaining soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one 1 week or in the freezer for a couple of months.