Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Best Soup, and an Evening at The Big House

Sunday evening I left The Free World for 8 hours. If I wanted to eat decent food at the place I was going, I had to bring my own. I had to put it in a clear container so the officers could see I was not hiding contraband cigarettes or a cellphone. I had to send the soup through an xray scanner as well.

I was lucky the other nurse I was working with had a plastic spoon, otherwise it would have been soup drunk bottoms up from one of the six styrofoam cups in the cupboard. Conditions in the clinic are spartan. A coffeemaker with no coffee. A cupboard with no sugar, no sweetener, no salt, no pepper. A miniscule refrigerator with someone's two forgotten hardboiled eggs inside- slightly cracked and resting on a paper towel. Drop a leftover in a wastebasket here, and you will see the quick moving shadows of mice that come out after the inmates go back to their guilds for the night when we have finished Med line and diabetic line and any left over treatments.

I could have gone over to the kitchen to pick up a tray. The inmate servers are always polite. "Hello, Miss Nurse", they say. I might have been lucky. They might have had eggrolls or a piece of cake, the only two edible things they offer there, outside of breakfast. Of course they would be disappointed to see me walk in, for they would be seeing me later at medline and I was no PYT, or "pretty young thing". One night I overheard them muttering outside the clinic window. "Who's in there tonight?" I heard one ask, and someone with a view replied "Some ol white girl-".

"I heard that", I said, "I know I'm old".

"Ma'am, we didn't mean nothing by that", they all said together.

But back to this soup. That the ambience at the clinic only made taste better. And that time improves, since the fire roasted tomatoes become more garlicky and tasty the longer they swim with the beans in the broth.

This soup takes under a half hour to make. You will need:

2 15 oz cans of good chicken broth

2 15 oz cans cannelloni beans.

2 cups diced fire roasted tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic. More if you love garlic.

1 medium yellow onion,diced.

Olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Italian seasoning to taste

As always, begin with the onion. Salt it lightly, then saute the diced pieces in olive oil till they are soft and golden.

Put the beans, broth, and tomatoes in a sauce pan, then add the cooked onion. Dice the garlic cloves or send them through a garlic press and add them to the soup. Now add Italian seasoning to taste as well as more sea salt. Forget the measuring spoon. Start by adding a little seasoning, and taste and taste until you have it right.

This will be enough soup for 4 or 5 people. It can be eaten cold, and as I already said, improves after a day in the refrigerator.


Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I love the way you write dialogue, Betsy..I feel as if I were there alongside you, experiencing the same things you did!

You soup looks delicious! I'm a big soup person and I sometimes eat it for breakfast.

troutbirder said...

Oh my oh my. That looks so good. I'm not the main chef here but soup is my specialty. I bought a package of "15" type beans recently. Suprisingly it came with a flavor package and I tossed in the frozen spiral ham bone left over from Easter.... It actually turned out pretty good. :)

Out on the prairie said...

What a lovely treat, I enjoy this soup.Taking down time art a prison acan be an eye opener. we did a Xmas party every year at a minimum security and the people were really happy to have some visitors from the outside.