We are low on groceries around here and it’s a big expedition into the real world to get them since our local grocery store burned down. And when we’re low on groceries, I make soup.
So last night I decided to make a favorite soup around here that’s a bit like Zuppa Toscana (however that’s spelled) at the Olive Garden, except it’s vegetarian so there’s no sausage. If I tweak it just right, even meat-loving Daryl thinks it’s fabulous.
I’m one of those tinkering chefs who never uses a recipe and tosses willy-nilly into the pot. So I started cooking– sauteed finely diced onion and peppers in butter till translucent, covered with water, tossed in sliced potatoes, chopped spinach, lots of garlic, sea salt, pepper, turmeric… you get the idea. Then I let it all bubble and blend while I checked my email, cuz I’m like that.
The kids were noisy, I was frazzled, Daryl had the TV on and I was sort of on autopilot. I can make soup with my eyes closed. Well, almost.
I grabbed the corn starch and stirred a bit into some cold water to thicken my lovely soup. I slowly poured it into the simmering pot and….
My soup exploded!
Okay, it didn’t really explode, but it fizzled and bubbled like I had added the magic potion in a Halloween movie, and any minute a frog was going to jump out.
And I had only drizzled in a tiny bit!
I was most perplexed.
I stirred it in, and drizzled a bit more.
FIZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Foam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bubble bubble bubble!!!
At this point, people with full uses of their brains would have stopped drizzling. Not I. I know how to make soup. You thicken it with corn starch.
So I drizzled the rest.
And the soup again did it’s impersonation of a golden potato-spinach volcano.
Finally, Victoria came up to me and asked “Why are you staring into the soup?”.
“Because it’s not behaving right,” I told her.
We both peered in, as the last of the angry fizzing petered off.
Well, there must be an acid reacting to the baking soda, I thought to myself. But why doesn’t it usually do that? I’m not cooking anything super acidic to react to the base….
One does not thicken soup with baking soda!
This was the part where I wandered into the the living room and informed Daryl that I might have ruined dinner.
He googled the safety of eating soup made with baking soda, assuming we’d even want to.
Turns out it’s just fine. Safety-wise, anyway.
The next step was tasting said soup to see if any of us even wanted to eat it.
It was strangely good. Even more bizarre, it tasted just like clams. Everybody tasted it, and everybody agreed. Clams.
So I got out some corn starch (double checked the box!) and thickened it, added milk to make it creamy, put in a few dashes of tobasco for a bit of a kick and served it.
It looked nothing like clam chowder at all. But with the milk it was even more like clam chowder. The kids could not stop wondering about it, and Victoria now wants to do taste tests with various combinations of foods to see if we can figure out why.
Daryl and the girls each ate 2 bowls of the stuff. Jack thought it was too spicy even after I added more milk, so I finally had to do the train to get it into him. But that was the dash of tobasco, not the wacky baking soda bit.
My family members are such good sports! How many other mothers serve foods that erupt?!
“Here, eat it! It’s science!”.