Who doesn’t love a bowl of good homemade soup? It warms the body and soothes the soul like good food was designed to do. I remember my grandmother and her sisters making soup in that old kitchen built out of love and linoleum. Anticipation became just as important as consumption. In those days the sights, sounds, and smells would fill the house like fragrant music. The kitchen would be overwhelmed with sounds of chopping and laughter, as the heat from an old gas stove could be felt in every room. It’s not difficult to understand how that homemade soup acquired its healing properties. The active ingredients came through the mixture of love, hard work, and togetherness.
Grandmother used to brag about how that soup somehow magically would get better the next day. Something mystical happened after a night in the refrigerator called “seasonings settling.” But I was always taken back by the appearance of left-over homemade soup. Things would have separated after being refrigerated. There would be this layer that looked like dirty butter or old chicken grease carefully sealing the top. As a child I thought this was something they added to protect the soup or give it longevity. Once I pushed on that fatty layer, I could see the broth but what happened to the veggies, chunks of meat and all the seasonings that added to the beautiful, speckled color? Grandmother explained it to me in her matter-of-fact manner and I trusted in the fact of what she explained, “everything is still there, it just has to be mixed.”
As an adult, I’ve learned that fat is one of the main macronutrients our bodies need and although broth doesn’t look too tasty, it is packed with the flavor and nutrients siphoned from other ingredients. The star of every homemade soup is the savory meat, freshly chopped vegetables, and an array of carefully selected seasonings. This is what will find its way to the bottom of the container after being refrigerated and settle just like grandmother said.
Think about it. The settling process required separation and even an ugly period. What appeared as a wonderful tasty dish the day before now had taken on another form. It was no longer esthetically pleasing, not until grandmother worked her magic which was in the mix. When she poured those leftovers back into a pot, slowly stirring, everything began to fall back into place. The secret was in the mix. Now, not only was it the wonderful dish prepared the day before, but it had that extra quality she warned us about. The flavor was more intensely satisfying.
There will be times our lives will resemble the process of homemade soup. We’ll have times of love, togetherness, laughter, comfort and joy but there will also be times of cold, separate, ugly, division. The important thing to remember is what happens in the mix.
Don’t fret when you are separated from friends and loved ones, for whatever reason. Try not to take it personally and allow yourself to slide into depressive, self-defeating thoughts. It’s part of this process called life. Trust that when things come together again your life will be the better for it. Don’t be troubled when people, places, or things get ugly and never look the same again. It will all come together in the mix. Remember, everything in the soup changed and got better after being closed off in the refrigerator for a while. Sometimes separation periods allow space for everyone involved to regroup, restructure, and return. Other times, division will cause a shift, and everyone moves in their own individual directions, meeting new people and doing new things in different places.
All of the ingredients are needed. The fat, the broth, the meat and veggies, and each makes the other better as a direct result of the settling process. Just remember and reflect the next time you‘re eating some of grandma’s homemade soup, there’s power, joy, and even a new beginning in the mix