“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
- 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).
- Add diced shallots and cook them for about 5 minutes, or until they’re softened.
- Add potatoes and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are also softened.
- Sprinkle in the flour and cook to form the roux, stirring constantly, for about 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in milk.
- Bring soup to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Almost there! Stir in the drained corn, shredded Gruyère, and cream and heat gently until the cheese is melted.
- Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garish with sage sprigs (optional, but delicious).
- Serve immediately and savor – this soup is decadent and will sustain you.
Hugs, high fives, and Happy New Year!
What I’m Listening to: Anya Marina’s “Whatever You Like”
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.