Soup & Salad…An Everlasting Love Affair

href=”https://ncnfoodie.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/veggiesoup2.jpg”>Veggie SoupThey belong together like peanut butter & jelly, Rogers & Hammerstein, Dolly Parton & plastic surgery.  My most significant memories of this fabulous duo are from the Ponderosa Steakhouse in the local mall.  Does anyone remember the Ponderosa?  Wondering if this establishment even exists anymore I did a quick internet search and found out that it does in fact exist but the closest location to where I used to frequent is 208.9 miles away in Fredericksburg, VA.  That’s quite a trek to partake of their splendid soup & salad bar but good to know if I’m ever traveling in that direction. 
Cannellini Bean & Baby Spinach Soup
My family and I would go to the mall on a Sunday after ice skating at the local rink during the 10am-12pm family session.  Having to get up at 7:30 or 8:00 on a Sunday morning was not the most appealing of ideas, but it was what we did…a tradition if you will.  The only thing that was true torture was listening to the some of the music they’d play while we skated.  My sister and I would cringe and make fun of the songs that we now completely love like “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” by the Andrew Sisters.  I think they played the entire Barry Manilow collection during those sessions as well.  Now I LOVE Barry and anytime I find one of his early albums in a thrift shop I think I’ve found the score of the century! We would also be entertained by some of the Sunday sessions regulars like “Miss Prim” and the “Mule Kicker”.  Miss Prim was a tall, thin brunette with large round glasses and a Dorothy Hamill wedge hairstyle that only had one speed…slow.  Everything stroke, every turn and movement was prim and proper, hence the nickname, “Miss Prim”.  The “Mule Kicker” was a man who looked like Archie bunker with brown hair.  He made calculated spastic movements and looked like that one person dancing amongst the crowd that everyone stands a good distance from because his dance moves take up such a radius that if you crossed into his space you’d end up getting punched in the face or kicked in the shin.  He was actually at one time a skater with the Ice Capades…a clown that did tricks.  My father dubbed him “The Mule Kicker” because of one of his signature moves.  But I digress….

After skating we would head over to the local mall and go directly to the Ponderosa Steakhouse for lunch.  The hostess would greet us and my father would say “4 for the soup & salad bar please.”  After finding prime location seating (as close to the bar as possible) we would grab a plate and bowl and get started.  I would always check out what soups they had first.  My favorite was the potato soup.  It was thick, creamy and just felt incredible going down coating my tummy.  Warming and delicious, a perfect choice after skating for two hours in a half-open rink.  I know most kids don’t get excited about vegetables, but I have loved and appreciated fresh veggies and quality ingredients from a young age.  The lettuce was always crisp, the tomatoes juicy, the cucumbers were crunchy and they had the best dressings.  I would go back for seconds and thirds, digest a bit and then get a little dessert.  There was fresh fruit, Jell-O and chocolate pudding if memory serve correctly.  Once we were sufficiently stuffed we would walk around the mall for a bit and then go home.  That was our Sunday routine until I graduated from high school and moved away.  My location has changed many times since then, but my love for soup and salad have stayed close to my heart (and tummy). Soup Pot

There’s something about soup that says comfort.  It warms you on a cold day, soothes aches and pains, reminds you of home and hugs you from the inside.  It’s the perfect one pot meal and something that is usually never the same twice in my kitchen.  I make “clean out the fridge” soup and it’s always an adventure!  I save veggies from certain death (spoilage), give fowl carcasses second life and swear that I could save the world, nourish the hungry and achieve world peace one bowl of soup at a time.  Now where did I put my cape and tiara? Many others feel just as strong about soup although they have expressed their thought far more eloquently than I ever could.    

For me, soup is love, hope, comfort, happiness & memories.  It’s a go-to dish when all else seems unappealing, or if there isn’t enough in the refrigerator it stretches the meal.  It can be thick and hearty or brothy and chunky.  You can put just about anything in it and never go wrong.  It appeals to all of my senses and “kitchen sink” style of cooking.  No matter where my cooking takes me, there is one thing I will always be able to guarantee.  There will be soup on the menu as it truly is a ladle of my love.

  Soup-Ladle of Love

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