Every Sunday I read the Soul Food column in Stella magazine. I love the snippets of foodie childhood memories the chefs share; and how, more often than not, they have taken those important dishes from their childhood and worked them into their own menus. I am not a chef and nor do I own a restaurant, but I have always thought about what I would write for the column if I had to. It was hard. There are so many wonderful kitchen memories and dishes up for grabs that still loiter about today in my kitchen, popping up when the need hits. But I decided to keep to their word limit (220) and so here it is; my soul food. What's yours?
Laura Milsom, teacher and writer
Grannie grew up on a farm in the Ukraine and was used to cooking fresh and filling fare. Her generation had learnt how to make a lot from very little. Grannie’s soup was one of these dishes. She would use seasonable vegetables added to Sunday’s leftover carcass.
Her huge pot would bubble away for ages. You would hear the salt and pepper grinding and knives skimming chopping boards adding more ingredients. You waited, knowing it was best to be hungry. Finally we would sit round the table to eat. Her soup could be lunch or dinner because you didn’t have to follow it with anything. We ate it with bread and butter and took our time. It was thick, full of goodness and delicious beyond reasoning for its simplicity. There was its hint of meat; then suddenly carrots, greens, potatoes, parsnips. It was like an allotment had exploded in your bowl. And the bowls kept coming; there was third, fourth portions, and plenty more for later.
Grannie never said exact amounts of what she added. I believe there was a secret ingredient, which she has taken with her. We try to make it and get close: close enough to be taken back to our childhoods and those hearty bowls of soup; that warming taste of goodness, always made with love.