Yesterday it rained a lot. A lot. I spent the day dodging umbrella spokes and discussing the troubling nature of English phonetics. My job as an English teacher means spending lots of time on the metro commuting between the offices and homes where my students not so eagerly await my arrival. It is pretty brutal. Many of the students have been told by their bosses to learn English or else... This leads to a certain anger/fear/hatred of the imperial language of international business.
Then there are the stories of my young charges whose parents want to get a leg up on this process by turning their little ones into lean, mean, bilingual machines, seemingly at any cost. There is something truly unnerving about sitting in a formal dining room, replete with gold edged, monogrammed china with an eight year old and her mother. Especially when the woman looks as though she has eaten little apart from Lucky Strikes, strong coffee and the occasional bite of romaine. Even more so when this stiletto and sweater-set clad woman is shouting about how her daughter is so lazy that she can't remember her spelling words then turns around and flounces out of the room, slamming the mahogany and bronze sliding doors behind her. It's a good thing I can say "please don't cry" in several languages...
All this rain and linguistic angst made me think of soup. When I finally made it back to my neighborhood at 8:30/20.30 (military time still eludes me), the regular market and grocery stores were closed. I stopped into a little fruteria (a fruit store) to by soup ingredients. With a large bag filled with tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, lemons, carrots and parsley, I made one final stop at the Ecuadorian run bakery. I am working on a little project with this bakery in which I am systematically tasting everything they make. These woman know how to rumble carbohydrates, jeez! I decided on one sunflower seed studded baguette and a piece of something that looked a little like bread pudding. There is very little a big pot of soup and some yummy bread can't fix. Especially when something that looks like bread pudding is for dessert!
Everything's Better with Soup
Makes enough for dinner or lunch for a few days...
1 large onion finely chopped
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
splash of nice vinegar, wine, or beer
3 small to medium sized carrots roughly chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 medium zucchini roughly chopped
4 small tomatoes roughly chopped or one small can of chopped tomatoes
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
half a medium sized savoy or other fun cabbage or green thing cut into fine ribbons
parsley/oregano/rosemary, whatever you've got
salt and pepper
In a large pot, heat a nice glug of olive oil. Saute onions with about a teaspoon of salt until transparent and starting to brown. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more until fragrant and smooshy. Throw in carrots and sweet potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and let cook until tomatoes break down, about 5 minutes at high heat. Splash in vinegar and cover veggie mixture with water. Bring to a low boil, then turn heat down and cover and simmer until mostly softened, About 15-20 minutes.
Add garbanzos, some kind of fun herb (a few teaspoons), cabbage and zucchini another teaspoon of salt and cook for another 10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and veggie squishiness. You might need to let it cook a few more minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with a little olive oil and some nice bread. A little goat cheese wouldn't hurt either.