Something strange is afoot in my universe. My past has started returning to me like chickens coming home to roost. Last week, I told you about three childhood ditties that have returned to haunt me…in a good way. This week, it’s soup that has reappeared on my horizon. It’s as though my life is a radio station I’ve listened to for so long that the playlist has begun to repeat. Everything is new all over again.
Here’s how it all started this time: a few nights ago, my wife and I went out to dinner and bumped into some good friends who were having a glass of wine. A lot of our things start that way, but in this case, the spark was when the conversation turned to our friends’ house renovation that was underway down near St. Michaels. John took out his cell phone to show us pictures of what appeared to be a major construction project and as he was scrolling through his montage of photos, his thumb quickly swiped across what looked to me like a recipe. Not just any recipe, mind you. It was a recipe for Chippewa Soup.
“Stop!” I said.
John dutifully obeyed and began to explain that the guest bedroom was going to have a picture window with a wonderful view of the bay…
“No; go back,” I said. “Not that. The recipe. Did I just see a recipe for Chippewa Soup?”
John looked at me the way people do from time to time but began to scroll back through all the photos and yes, lo and behold, there was indeed a photo of a recipe for Chippewa Soup. “Oh that,” he said, “it’s just a recipe for some soup that comes from Rolling Rock…”
“I know!” I was probably talking too loudly. “I’m from Pittsburgh, you know. That was my favorite soup! Only two places ever served it: Rolling Rock and the Duquesne Club, the twin pillars of Pittsburgh society! I loved it so much, I asked for the recipe and made a batch every Christmas Eve for twenty years!” I was definitely talking too loudly now. The renovation project was out the window. Suddenly I realized I had somehow forgotten all about Chippewa Soup. I mean, how does one forget something once so loved? Now there’s something to muse on for another time…but I digress.
First thing next morning, I went to the grocery store and bought everything I needed. It was going to be a cold day—a perfect day for soup!. I could already savor the redolent aroma that would again fill the house; I couldn’t wait to taste all the subtle flavors that would rewarm my belly.
There are two known recipes for Chippewa Soup: one is gastronomically complicated, the other is caveman simple. As a chef, I was trained in the Ocham’s Razor school of cooking: the simple recipe is likely to be just as good—maybe even better—as the fancy version. Now I admit that as a scientific methodology, Friar Ocham’s theory is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic; it’s more of an arbiter among competing hypotheses that states if you want to solve a problem, the most simple solution—the one with the fewest assumptions—is more likely to be correct than a more complex one. In my cooking methodology, especially when it comes to Chippewa Soup, it all boils down to this: KISS: keep it simple, stupid.
Interested? Getting hungry? Maybe if I were the Seinfeld Soup Nazi, I would now go and hide the recipe to keep you coming back for more, but in the true spirit of Musing, I’ve decided to share it with you so pay attention:
Combine two cans of tomato and split pea soup. (Campbell’s is just fine.) Add a smoked ham hock. In a separate pan (I prefer a cast iron skillet), dice and sauté in half stick of butter, carrots, celery, and onion. Add curry powder to taste—the more, the better in my book—and cook for 5 minutes. Add the curried vegetables to the soup and let it simmer on the stove for two hours before draining the soup through a colander. Mix in enough heavy cream to turn the color to gold. Garnish with fresh chives, a crouton or two, and a dollop of sour cream. Serve hot or cold…but hot is better.
Chippewa soup pairs well with your favorite glass of wine and a fresh, warm baguette from Evergrain. Soup for you! Yum! Let me know what you think.
So welcome to the clubs. I’m off to the kitchen but don’t worry…
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was published in May 2017; a second volume of Musings entitled “I’ll Be Right Back” was released in June 2018. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com