I Have Soup

September 7, 2018



I know. September isn’t for soup. September’s devotion should be saved for its finest gifts to the Earth: tomatoes, corn, peaches, plums. Basil and mint and ALL of the herbs. I am not ignoring–or squandering–those gifts.

But sometimes life and circumstance require soup.

There are details, but they aren’t mine to tell. I can assure you that all is basically a-okay here. Here is not the problem.

Truth of the matter is, sometimes other people need soup. It’s soup they didn’t ask for; it’s soup they didn’t want dropped on their doorstep, if they had their druthers.

When life delivers a swift and foul kick to the gut, some people send flowers. Or money, or time, or pies or comfort in a casserole dish. I tend to send soup. Even in September.

The details, if you care about things like soup: This particular soup is a workhorse; it can be served warm, cold or room temperature. There’s no dairy in it to irritate bellies in revolt and it’s vegan/vegetarian for people who belong to that tribe. It’s laced with spices that are warm and comforting but not spicy. It’s full of nutritious stuff to fuel people who might not be eating much, or who are eating at erratic hours. It freezes beautifully, in case someone is drowning in pies and needs to stash it away for later consumption.

It will do.

It is what I have.

I will stand in front of your house, fully aware of my luck.

Me, who gets to bring the soup.

The person who drew the long straw, when you got the short one.

I’ll hesitate at the doorbell, heavy pot between my hands, knowing that there’s so much more I wish I could offer.

A better week. A better day. A night’s better sleep. A different diagnosis. An answer. A way to see out. A way to see something else than what I know you’re seeing. A hundred barrels of courage. A sliver of peace.

I never have any of those things to offer.

I wonder, when you open the door, if you’ll say: “Hey, asshole. Are you doing this for me? Or for yourself?”

I wonder what I’ll say to that. It’s a fair question. I’ll stumble on it.

Instead, all I have to offer is soup and I feel ridiculous, standing there with soup.

But I don’t know what else to do.

So I ring the bell and hand it over.

Me, who gets to bring the soup.






Lemony Carrot and Cauliflower Soup

serves 4

adapted very slightly from Melissa Clark


1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

5 medium carrots (1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

6 cups water or unsalted vegetable broth (plus more as needed)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

3 tablespoons white miso (I used Miso Master Organic Mellow White Miso, found in the refrigerated section of Whole Foods)

1 small (or half of a large) head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

Smoky (ancho) chile powder, for serving

Coarse sea salt, for serving

Cilantro leaves, for serving

**Author’s serving suggestion**–stir some full-fat coconut milk into this soup if you can. It takes a soup that is good to the WOW level, in this author’s opinion.


In a large, dry pot over medium heat, toast the coriander seeds until fragrant and dark golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and coarsely crush. (If, like me, you do not own a mortar and pestle, transfer the coriander seeds to a ziploc bag and whack the hell out of them with a cast iron skillet or meat mallet).

Return the pot to medium heat. Add the oil and the cumin seed and heat until the seeds begin to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook until soft and lightly colored, 7-10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for a minute.

Add carrots, crushed coriander, salt, pepper and 6 cups water or broth to the pot. Stir in the miso until it dissolves. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower, bring back to simmer and cook, covered, over medium-low heat until the vegetables are very tender, 10-15 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree with an immersion blender or you can do it in batches in a blender. If necessary, turn on the heat and warm the soup through. Stir in the lemon zest and juice right before serving. Taste and adjust for seasoning. If soup seems too thick, thin with additional broth OR swirl in some full-fat coconut milk, which I really, really recommend.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle with a little olive oil, a sprinkle of ancho chile powder, a sprinkle of sea salt and some cilantro.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie September 7, 2018 at 6:45 am

I love your writing. I love your huge heart.


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me September 7, 2018 at 7:39 am

I am a firm believer in the power of soup to heal in so many ways. This one looks delicious.


Pat September 8, 2018 at 6:16 am

Thanks for this post. I can relate to reaching out with soup. I always wonder about the question of who we do it for too. I figure the answer is “both.”
Also, thanks for the vegan recipe! Much appreciated.


Dana Talusani September 8, 2018 at 8:17 pm

Your kind answer–“both”–is the best I can hope for. Thank you.


Papa Guy September 11, 2018 at 9:22 pm

I’ve been a troll for several years, and sometimes you make me cry.


Dana Talusani September 12, 2018 at 11:56 am

Papa Guy, I never think of you as a troll, sir!


Arnebya September 18, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Oh, the luck of the soup bringer. I have been both the bringer and the receiver, and like most folks, I suspect I much prefer the former. Though, under the right circumstances, I am a soup lover (even in summer, much to the confusion of people who ask how I can eat something hot when it’s hot outside. Um, I open my mouth?).


Dana Talusani September 19, 2018 at 4:58 am


I usually am only on team soup if it’s chilly or I’m sick, but I ate it yesterday in 93 degree weather so there may be a new “old age factor” kicking in.


elizabeth September 19, 2018 at 8:57 am

I tend to be a lasagna-maker in those circumstances, but I really want to try this soup now for myself. (The only downside to making lasagna is usually trying to find fridge space in which to store it until delivery, which would be less of an issue with this soup.)


Dana Talusani September 19, 2018 at 2:53 pm

I definitely recommend adding the coconut milk in this soup if you want a little extra zhush. As for lasagna, I would take that ANYtime.


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