I’ve shared the hard part of having my mother-in-law live with us: The loss of freedom. However, I don’t think I have shared the good part: Making soup.
I know that sounds like such a small consolation, but you need to know that I really, really, really like making soup—I’m passionate about it–but I don’t like eating it that much.
I began making soup for my in-laws two and a half years ago at Christmas. I mentioned that I sometimes make soup, and my mother-in-law’s face lit up. “You can make soup?” she asked.
As it turned out, they were eating a lot of store-bought soup and she was having a negative reaction to canned tomatoes. In that moment, I knew what I would get them for Christmas—a membership to my own private soup of the month club. In other words, I would commit to making soup and delivering it to them at least once a month—perhaps even more often. I was excited about that gift because like so many retirees, they had everything. Besides pictures of their grandchildren, what else could I possible give them? Soup.
Over time, they made requests for their favorites. My mother-in-law liked the okra stew and broccoli-cauliflower-cheese, and my father-in-law preferred the old-fashioned chicken with vegetables. I thought my mushroom-chicken-spinach soup was outstanding, but I found two containers of it when I cleaned out their freezer, so apparently, that wasn’t the hit I thought it would be.
Now, my mother-in-law sometimes struggles to swallow, and she chews even her yogurt and applesauce. Soup is the mainstay of her diet. So much so that when she was in the hospital in May and wouldn’t eat, we brought her soup. She ate it. She recovered enough to come home.
Summer squash is a recent favorite. She also liked the heavy beef broth with onions that I retrieved from the freezer. I had mistakenly labeled it “black bean” and was surprised by the lack of beans once it thawed. Oh, well. She ate it anyway and seemed to really enjoy it. As broth goes, it is particularly hearty.
She hated the avocado soup, but I think that if I make it again, I can tweak it. I tasted that first batch. Something was very wrong. It was definitely too salty and too lemony. It could have been called salt-and-lemon soup. Eww.
This week because it is so warm, I’m making cold soups. Gazpacho was a hit. Today, I made chilled basil soup, and I’m toying with making a carrot ginger soup that can be eaten hot or cold.
Soup-making is as much a creative outlet for me as this blog, and it has occurred to me that once my mother-in-law dies, I will have no one to eat my soup. My children hate it. My husband and I like it enough to eat it occasionally, but I’m in the habit of making soup a couple times a week—at least!
Perhaps I will start a soup ministry– just make soup and give it away to people who need a good meal or even just need to feel cared for. I think soup says, “You are loved.”