Ugly Soup

It looked lovely in the jar.   The Mason jar layered with dry soup ingredients was labeled “To a Souper-Co-worker”.  A gift to my husband on his last day at a recent temp job.

Nothing identified what kind of soup it was to be, but I was able to identify most of the layers:  split peas, barley, rice, pasta, a mystery bean or grain, a layer of seasoning.  Following directions, I added it all to 12 cups of water to boil and simmer for an hour.  I added the suggested can of diced tomatoes, chopped celery and carrots.  Then I added some shredded chicken “to make a full meal of it” I told my husband.

I heated some crusty rolls while we grew hungry stirring the simmering soup.  It was good.  Mildly seasoned, and I regretted not adding onions, but hearty and tasty. After our two soup bowls full, and my husband back for seconds, we still had a huge pot – a bounty of goodness from a small gift jar.  I put some in the freezer and some in smaller containers we could each have for the next day’s lunch.

I’m always glad to have an easy lunch planned while at work, so I was looking forward to my soup today as I opened the container to heat in the microwave.  I found myself overcome by grayness.  Gray-green, gray-brown, gray-white the whole bowl seemed appallingly gray and gelatinous, with occasional chunks of orange carrot or red tomato doing little to make the grayness appetizing.  Hot off the stove last night, this grayness was less apparent though we had commented that it wasn’t a particularly attractive soup.

Now it was just ugly.  I could hardly bring myself to taste it. If I had been offered this bowl as a mystery soup I would never have been persuaded to try it.  I reminded myself that I could identify most of the ingredients and that it had tasted good the night before.  So I ate it.  Most of it.  And it was still…okay.  But I am depressed as I remember the quantities of this soup stored in my home fridge and freezer.  I am hoping my husband has a better stomach for ugly food than I do.

And I am remembering a family supper when my two thirty-something kids were less than ten.  I had made a delicious beef & vegetable stew – and I maintain that it was delicious.  However the corn I added came from our freezer, and had been hand cut off the cob by their grandmother and I the summer before.  This is our favorite frozen corn, but in the stew had the unfortunate appearance of being somewhat …pre-chewed.  My kids responded very visually, and very loudly with the opinion that they would not eat a bowlful of what looked to them like regurgitated food. (That’s not exactly how they put it…)  I know we insisted and they ate and all survived.  But we all remember the ugly stew incident.
After today’s ugly gray soup, which also resembles messes I have cleaned from floors when someone was suddenly ill, I identify with their feelings all those years ago.  But lucky me!  There is no parent to make me eat the rest of it.

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