Previously on Poor Impulse Control, we pondered a tasty puzzle. An acquaintance must eschew the following:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Ta darling, you say, That’s all well and good, but it’s midday and my lunchbox is filled with no sandwich. Quite right. How do you feel about soup? Plenty of charming people now bring prepared foods to work for lunch and almost nobody discusses their moral torpor – anymore. In our case, a careful reading of the ingredient list is very important since garlic, flour and HFCS will turn up in unexpected places. No ingredient on our list should find its way into a decent New England clam chowder, but it will if someone in R&D took the moronic step of thickening chowder with a roux. So: read. Really.
Making your own soup couldn’t be easier and it will make lunch less like spinning a carnival wheel where hives are the big prize. Got a slow cooker? Good. You are about to develop a new habit: when you cut up vegetables, throw carrot tops, celery ends, onion bits, fennel leaves and so forth into a 1 gallon Ziploc bag and drop that in the freezer. When the bag is full, empty the contents into your slow cooker, add peppercorns, bay leaves, star anise, annatto and celery seeds, a little salt and pepper. Got a chicken neck or feet or a smoked turkey neck? They would add nice flavor and they’re super cheap. Turn this on low and come back in 24 hours. Strain. Taste it. You could season it with stuff you already like in your fridge. If you tell people you make your own stock once a week they will think your are both crazy and curiously virtuous. Don’t tell them all you have to do is plug in the CrockPot.
Roasted Anything Vegetable Soup
(Insert your favorite vegetable here)
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
butter or olive oil
salt and pepper
your favorite herbs
Prepare your favorite vegetable to roast. For instance, halve and clean a butternut or acorn squash. Save the seeds. Or peel sweet potatoes or regular potatoes or eggplant. Or halve tomatoes. What do you like? Roast that in a 400 degree oven until it’s fork tender. Set aside. When cool, cut into small chunks.
In a soup pot, melt butter or heat olive oil. Sweat onion and carrots until onions are clear and sweet and carrots have softened. Add your roasted heart’s desire and mash to combine. Add in stock, maybe a quart or two. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, add salt and pepper. If you want to puree, you can use an immersion blender or a regular blender, if you cover the lid with a towel and pulse carefully.
Serve with a scoop of plain yogurt and a dusting of your favorite herbs. Squash seeds, toasted at 350 degrees until they smell delicious, make a great snack sprinkled with salt.
How do you feel about beef stew? Pot roast? Chicken soup? Tuna salad? Chicken salad? Ham salad with melon? Chef salad? Turkey stew? Sashimi? They can be prepared without the use of our off-limits ingredients. If I, in all my hypothetical allergic glory, were to order any of these items in a restaurant or cafeteria, I would demand the assurance of the cook that I was not about to poison myself. Is that assurance enough? Probably not. I’d personally threaten to haunt the chef that lied and treated me to anaphylactic shock. Haunt them with knives. Yep. But you may be a nice person. If you prepare your own food, you stand an even better chance of both surviving and enjoying lunch.