Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Break-up Soup: Corn, Potato, & Gruyère Deliciousness

“There is logic and order to cooking. What you put into it has everything to do with what you get out of it. With love, it’s not so cut-and-dried.”

–Giulia Melucci, I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti: A Memoir of Good Food and Bad Boyfriends

True story – He broke up with me six days before Christmas, over the phone. He said, “You’re the nicest girl I’ve ever dated, but…” I’ll leave the break-up story there, teetering on the edge of such a backhanded compliment that, at the time, I was left speechless – an event that doesn’t happen often. We had been an item for five months – they were largely fun and relaxing, involving meals of roasted chicken, beer cheese soup, lasagna, spinach-and-ricotta calzones, and his delicious chicken Parmesan. We played a lot of board games, hiked many Saturdays and walked around our neighborhoods on the weekdays, and discussed what 30-somethings do when they’re on the precipice of their potential. He was my rebound, I guess, though I didn’t see him as such until the phone call.

I was, of course, hurt after the phone call. I cried. I watched Season 1 and 2 of Dexter on Netflix in bed.I don’t know what it says about me and my love life that I console myself with a television series about serial killers. I called my mother, my best friends Jenna and Nicole, and dragged myself to the gym to pay penance for ordering crappy pizza delivery after not eating the whole day post-phone call. I huffed and puffed through the aerobics class, and swore I would return to expend my emotions and the extra calories consumed from wooing the wrong guy.

I spent Christmas in Independence, Missouri with my family – my mother, stepfather, sister, grandma, and grandpa. I briefly visited and hugged my dad, brother, and youngest sister on Christmas Eve. I looked on at my grandpa Bob, who is sick yet again and almost 90, at the head of the dinner table, his head bowed during the communal grace my 80-year-old grandmother organized. I read a poem by Ted Kooser, Year’s End. I liked believing that maybe one day I too would find my own red feather on the wind. I cried yet again in the car ride after Christmas dinner to my patient mother, who simply nodded, held my hand, and listened. Listening is such a supreme gift. I watched Scrooged once we arrived back at my mother’s home, and I hoped that one day Lumpy would look for me, his beloved Claire – that he’d apologize for taking me for granted, for being such a royal pain in the ass.

But my life isn’t a Christmas movie with Bill Murray or the Solid Gold Dancers – my life is real. Rarely have old flames come back into my life to tell me they were so, so wrong.

So, how do I move on from this small heartbreak?

I make soup, that’s how. Warm, comforting, nourishing soup that beats the heck out of clichéd pints of ice cream.

Corn, Potato & Gruyère Soup
Recipe adapted from Nicola Graimes’ The Vegetarian Cookbook

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
8 oz. red potatoes
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. dry white wine
1 ¼ cups whole milk
11 ½ oz. canned corn kernels, drained
8 oz. Gruyère
2 cups heavy cream

  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottom pan over low heat (I use my dutch oven gifted by my generous friend Shane last Christmas).
  2. Add diced shallots and cook them for about 5 minutes, or until they’re softened.
  3. Add potatoes and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are also softened.
  4. Sprinkle in the flour and cook to form the roux, stirring constantly, for about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in milk.
  6. Bring soup to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  7. Almost there! Stir in the drained corn, shredded Gruyère, and cream and heat gently until the cheese is melted.
  8. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garish with sage sprigs (optional, but delicious).
  9. Serve immediately and savor – this soup is decadent and will sustain you.

Hugs, high fives, and Happy New Year!

What I Just Finished Reading: Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story. Both are awesome. Read these authors pronto! All the cool kids are doing it.


Giulia Melucci said...

What a lovely post, even though it came out of unpleasantness. I hate that guy, you'll have a better one all in good time. In the meantime, keep cooking. Happy New Year!

Kella said...

Oh my gosh! Giulia Melucci you made my day. Thank you for writing your memoir and for sharing your stories. That post was definitely inspired by your book, which I'm half-way through. My grandma Mary Ann (all the first-born daughters are Mary something minus me) gave me your book for Christmas. She's a smart cookie, my grandma. In any case, thank you. Happy New Year to you! Please keep writing. I love your stuff.

Lisa said...

That sucks, Kella! What a jerk. I'm really sorry to hear that, but I think your way of coping is similar to mine when I'm down. Your grandma is a smart one. Soup and spending time with loved ones seems to do the trick for me, too. Hope to get together soon.

CL said...

The recipe looks delicious and your writing is fabulous (I know, I'm your Mom but it truly is)!

A book we must read, "Blood, Bones, & Butter" by Gabrielle Hamilton, the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef. I thought of you when I saw it! Love you much - Mom

Kella said...

Thanks, Lisa. It's a-okay. I rather keep putting myself out there than be a reticent, bitter, socially awkward hermit. Heartbreak is an occupational hazard if you're human, which I most assuredly am. I cannot wait to get together with you soon too - we have some celebrating to do! I cannot wait to celebrate your engagement. You go, girl!

Kella said...

Hey, CL (aka, Mom),

I love you for reading this little blog of mine and for the book recommendation. I will check that book out from the library pronto.

Thanks for being there for me and for always listening.

Love you!!

rollergirl1 said...

I love you!

I'm digging Anya, her voice reminds me a little of Nina Persson (hearts!)!