I made soup today. Roasted chicken. And it took 6 hours. Seriously.
I began sometime after the second cup of coffee, but before the third. Pulled the carcass of bones and tendons from the fridge; burnished skin, gelatinous broth congealed to the breast and thighs. Johny Lang, Tracy Chapman, and Nina Simone took turns in the cd player as I listened to the wind blow outside. Something about the cool caress of Autumn's fingers on my cheek leads me to the kitchen every time...
Nearly unconsciously I begin to peel the meat from the bones.
Soon this becomes a personal quest...my fingers sliding along calcium lengths, searching out the divots and undulations that hide the sweetest, darkest meat. Peeling back roasted skin to coax tender slices of salty succulence from their place, separating cartilage from bone, sinew from muscle. The meat drops into the bowl, the bones piling in a mound inside the soup pot. Ribs, back, wings...vertebrae...skeleton abandoned.
Slice of onion, celery ribs with leafy tops, rosemary cut from the chilly planter on the porch--the single lonely herb left next to the brittle husks of basil and crispy sage. Crushed ivory cloves of garlic, black peppercorns tossed into steaming water....the bones sink beneath an an aqueous grave. Soft simmering....tempered heat....rosemary mist. Satisfaction permeates my soul as I leave the room with a last glance toward the windows slowly filling with lovely steam....
Three hours later.
Delicious carcass and vegetable pulp. Broth with....warmth. Depth. Marrow. Drain, chill, skim the fat, smile softly...secretly at the thought of rosemary infused lusciousness. Chopped panchetta into the pot, crisping. Onion, glistening. Fresh celery, carrots, herbs. The broth from lifeless bones, resurrected into liquid gold.
As I stir, I wonder. This afternoon I received a call from a distant friend, we chatted. Upon her asking about my day, I responded, "I'm making soup." She laughed, "Like you open the can, right?" I chuckled softly to myself. As I added crushed sage and fresh rosemary....I wondered if she'd ever had soup--real soup. Soup with love and time and marrow in it.
Like life, soup is so substantial...so basic. But when was the last time you had soup made from the bone? There is...vitality in it. Pain and blood and pulse and joy and movement....life.
Sometimes I feel like Campbells has taken over the planet. Condensed it. The Hallmark channel: "Open can, add one hour of time and the Jack Frost movie and sha-zam--Christmas eve!" Do you remember actually threading needles, making cranberry popcorn strings for the tree while swapping "favorite Christmas past" tales? Before Macys took over? I truly don't mean to sound...old. (chuckle) Or like some Martha Stewart commercial, but there is something missing...
Instant marriages--no such thing. Instant parenting? (take one child, add a wireless device and their own tv...) Friendships, home-making, dinner, holidays....I am internally battling this war against a condensed life. I refuse to give in.
The last step. After the simmer, the softening of vegetable and meat and corn, a cup of cream. Fresh pepper....the aroma fills the house. I go out to get the mail and the 45 seconds it takes to do so--leave me reveling in the warmth of deliciousness as I reenter. Eyes closed....amazing.