Soup lessons.

photo-8One thing I can never claim is to be a great cook. My motto pretty much is “Why make from scratch what you can purchase already made?” Take soup, for instance. Aren’t there already hundreds of varieties in cans already? Yet some people insist that homemade is much better. (Actually I can’t really argue that fact, though MY homemade probably doesn’t apply here.) I do like those little packets, however, that you can pick up at gourmet cooking stores, the ones where you just pretty much dump a bunch of stuff (of course, I have to know WHAT stuff, don’t make me guess) into a pot and it’s pretty darn close to homemeade. So my sister and I were at such a store recently and we both picked up a package of dried-soup-starter-stuff. Apple Sausage and bean soup. I’m not even a big bean lover but for some reason it caught my eye that particular day.

Well, lo and behold, wouldn’t you know – record low temps hit mid-July this summer and by golly, if it wasn’t perfect soup weather! The recipe called for “chicken apple sausage.” That sounded pretty yummy, but I couldn’t find it at the local grocery store and the grocer had never even heard of it (oh dear, my first clue this was going to be a challenge). I ended up with some Italian turkey sausage (don’t laugh – what do I know?) and set about the task of making the soup. First step . . . soak the beans for 4 HOURS or OVERNIGHT!! What??? Who soaks beans and why so long? I’ve never done this before so how I was I to know you needed to soak beans! (Oh, and also it said to “rinse, drain and ‘pick over'” – – huh? pick over? I don’t even know what that means.) So, needeless, to say, we went out for dinner that night.

Next day: I soaked those puppies all day long. It wasn’t till about 6:00 I got to the business of finishing the soup. Step two . . . cook the beans for and hour and a half! Come on!! This is turning out to be the soup from hell! And after you cooked the beans, you added some stuff and cooked it for another hour!? OK – dinner out that night, too. What does one do with REALLY soaked beans?? How would I know. I stuck ’em in a baggie and put them in the fridge. I was just about ready to toss them and cry “uncle” when we decided to finish the job and have that soup for dinner (on the third day!). Turns out I bought chicken stock instead of chicken broth, and only half the amount I needed (could 4 cups stock + 4 cups water = 8 cups broth?? Don’t ask me, I never was any good at math.) Oh, and one last thing, I was supposed to put spinach in shortly before we were to eat it. Totally forgot. This poor pot of soup had so many strikes against it, it should have been “out” a long time ago. Turns out, it was pretty darn good!!

I like when I can be pretty sure of an outcome.  Some may say that is a quality of a “control freak.”  I say . . . . . dang it, that’s probably right.  I like to follow recipes e.x.a.c.t.ly.!  Not all willy-nilly, “Well, I don’t have ‘this’ so I’ll add ‘that’ instead.”  You just don’t know what it’s going to come out like!  Predictability!  That’s . . . that’s . . . . oh my, that’s boring.  Could all this soup hoo-haw be God trying to tell me something?  I can see two things here – one I should have learned in the 4th grade.  I remember my teacher, Mr. Nevala, telling us to read through the instructions COMPLETELY before starting a task.  I could never be bothered.  I just want to get to it and get it done.  Sit and read through all the steps?  Well, it would have helped me in the soup-making process.  It wouldn’t have taken three days.  That’s not such a spiritual lesson learned, but lesson #2 – I can’t predict every (or any) outcome.  Only God can do that (thank God).  I’m really glad He’s sovereign and not me, now if I could only trust Him more completely.  Immediate gratification isn’t always best. Some things take time.  And even when you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, it doesn’t mean the end result can’t be pretty darn good anyway.

So this might not be a life-altering lesson, but as God is my witness, I will never “not read instructions all the way through” again!  (Mr. Nevala would be so proud.  Well, maybe he’d be more so if it didn’t take me 45 years.)

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