All winter long I have a theme to our evening meals. On night one, I cook more than is necessary to fill us up, and the leftover portion goes into the “French soup pot.” My father’s people are French/Canadians whose lineage goes all the way back to the French Hache family who became the Gallants (another story for another time) who came by ship from France via Montreal and Quebec to settle on Prince Edward Island in the seventeen hundreds. They were the very first non-indigenous settlers there and- get this, they made friends with the native people the MicMacs who taught them how to survive the treacherous winters and what to plant come spring. As evidence of this close and meaningful friendship, I am proud to have a bit of Mic Mac blood running through my veins; this added into the family gene pool when one of my ancestors married a MicMac woman.
From my father’s mother, who knitted the most amazing mittens with wool she called, P.E.I. “double wool” that never got wet, I learned about the French Soup Pot . I could make a hundred snow ladies or men, throw a million snowballs, etc. and come home with warm and dry hands wearing those mittens. However, for a style conscious girl, right from the very beginning, I would have liked a pair that was not medium gray with either a red or a green stripe around the wrist, ad infinitum. Oh, well, my grandmother also believed that we are not put on earth to have fun and enjoy ourselves, but to be good, and so, deserving of gaining heaven. Dark gray, indeed.
My pot gets leftover meat, vegetables, gravy, sauce, pan scrapings, etc. and then it goes into the fridge until the next day. I always have on hand such things as canned beans, black, kidney, chick peas, northern white beans, etc., some kind of “sharpener” such as pepperoni, salami, or thin sliced ham…also, of course, good old reliable bacon and canned tomatoes, tomato paste and Italian pasta sauce. As you can readily see, we are not vegetarians or vegans. With all respect to those who are, we like meat and are not ashamed to say so!
The soup day is great fun as I scour the fridge for leftovers that have managed to escape me earlier. Then, I saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic to make a fine mirepoix, most days, unless the leftovers already have these components. I just go wild from there, tasting, adding, playing like a kid (the kid I was) adding this and that but not from the from the back yard and the woods, however I am still “playing house.” I played cook, my dolls and stuffed animals all dinner guests, and I suppose this is where it all began.
So, one day meat, veggies, maybe a starch, and always a salad. You know, a typical American meal. We are gluten free so we thank our lucky stars, daily, that we discovered Against the Grain products made in Vermont. Now, we have bagels, buns and baggettes so amazingly good, crusty, chewy and better than most wheat based breads, and I can ease up on trying to bake all my breads. I now bake tea breads, cakes, brownies and pies (with walnut oatmeal crusts that are to die for) and let these magic bakers take care of the breads. With soup I serve a long hot crusty baggette and provide a hunk of Parmesan and a grater for individual taste. My foodie father, no longer with us but, I am sure, hangs out in my kitchen, drooling (I am an avid foodie thanks to parents who not only loved it, but knew just what to do with food) and my mother, also gone, who was once the pastry chef at a French restaurant in the town where we lived on Cape Cod, taught me well. Particularly to honor leftovers. Waste not, want not, and all that wisdom regarding the relationship between food and good economy. Bon Appetit!