And… a new level of Not Cool. I have been stood up by people who Paid Actual Money to talk to me. This is where I give up and make soup.
When I started teaching a Dutch class about four months ago, the group quickly dwindled from 15 students to seven or eight. Must’ve been my mad teaching skills. Still, I thought we had a good thing going: they would show up every Thursday evening, I would talk to them at high speed and no one got hurt. We even did Sinterklaas poems and pepernoten one night.
Then January came, and exactly one person showed up for the first lesson of the year. Which sounds lame, but was nice- we went out for tea, chatted in Dutch and agreed to do it again next time. Two more people said they’d come, and I got to the bar early to secure us a table for four. At which I sat, throwing increasingly forlorn looks at the door as five minutes became ten, then twenty and thirty before I got up and paid for a single cup of tea. Good thing I didn’t order that large snack platter I had my eye on.
Their loss, my gain, because I got two breakfast bowls on my replacement shopping trip. Normally, I might have considered bowls with a bird, a twig on the inside and a gold rim over the top. But at a 30% discount and in dire need of a pick-me-up, they screamed “You need me! You want me! Buy me!” So I did.
And then I made soup to put in them. Chicken broth with lots of vegetables, a kick from hot paprika and oomph from a chunk of parmesan that simmers along with the vegetables. It is a bit chunky, a bit funky and the perfect food to improve a night of Not Cool.
Try it next time you get stood up by paying customers.
Vegetable soup with a kick
Based on a variety of minestrone recipes, this soup is light but substantial, full of leek, cabbage and parmesan flavor. Many combinations of vegetable will work here, but the celery and carrots are important, as is a tasty stock.
- splash of olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
- 4 ribs of celery, diced finely
- 5 baby carrots, diced finely
- 3 baby carrots, sliced into coins
- 1 fennel bulb, half diced finely, the other half in thin slices
- ½ tsp spicy paprika
- three twigs of thyme
- two leeks, rinsed well, white and light green parts sliced thinly
- 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
- half a small white cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
- Approximately 1,5 l of good stock (I use chicken or vegetable)
- (rind of) a chunk of parmesan*
Heat the olive oil in a large pot with a heavy bottom. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute, then add the celery, diced carrot and diced fennel and cook until soft. Sprinkle over the paprika, mix, then add the leek. Mix with the cooked vegetables and cook for a few minutes. Add the heated stock, the thyme, the parmesan, the carrot coins and the fennel slices. Cook for seven or eight minutes, until the vegetables are mostly tender. Add the cabbage ribbons and halved tomatoes and cook for ten more minutes until the cabbage is tender and the other vegetables are soft. Fish out the thyme twigs and the parmesan. Serve hot.
* One of Nigella Lawson’s books taught me to freeze the rinds of a block of parmesan for just this purpose, but if all you have is a chunk of parmesan, a thick slice of that will work as well.