Tag Archives: alchemy

Soup.

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The Soup Is For All: Soup Alchemy & Experimentation

In my conversations with friends and loved ones, I’ve come to realize how many people are AFRAID TO COOK! Whether it is because of a lack of experience or bad experiences in the past, so many people I know are hesitant to try something even as basic and fantastically mutable and customizable as a soup, and certainly not without following a recipe to the very letter!

This is a shocking discovery for me because making and consuming good food is one of the most satisfying and life-affirming things I can think of. It is one of the things that keeps me going even in my darkest days. With that in mind, I’ve created this little two-part tutorial with tips on how to create The Most Satisfying Soup Experience You Will Ever Have!

Basic Soup Template

Tools:

  • Frying pan for browning meat (I prefer a light metal pan to a heavy dark pan for this)
  • Big soup pot!
  • Knife for cutting veggies
  • Small spoon for tasting
  • Ladle for ladling your delicious creation into bowls for family & friends!

Ingredients:

  • Meat (if you’re an omnivore)
  • Fresh Veggies (any kind you like, chopped into bite-size pieces)
  • Canned Veggies (stay away from mushy stuff, but DO try cream-style corn and stewed tomatoes!)
  • Broth (I use store-bought organic broth like Pacifica, but you don’t have to!)
  • Olive Oil or other vegetable oil (to keep the veggies moist and from sticking to the pot)
  • LOVE. It really does make the soup taste better!

If your soup will have meat in it, season & brown the meat first. Make sure you drain the grease and pat the meat dry with a paper towel. You might be tempted to put the grease into the soup with the meat, but if you do, your soup may turn out very oily. (*) Set the meat aside.

Coat the bottom of your soup pot with a thin layer of olive oil, or another cooking oil of your choice. This will keep your veggies from sticking to the bottom & sides of your pot. Go for a strong oil rather than a light-tasting oil as the oil will add lots of intense flavor!

Cut up your FRESH veggies and dump them into the pot. Remember: this phase is for your more tough veggies that will take longer to cook: potatoes, carrots, peppers, onions, squash, etc. If you’re using leafy greens or other delicate veggies, they should go in later so that they don’t get cooked into mush and disintegrate.

Cook your fresh veggies over medium heat until they are partially cooked/wilted, stirring frequently. (**) Feel free to add a bit more olive oil as needed to keep them moist. And DO season your veggies a little now so that the flavor will have time to blend and mature.

Once your veggies are a little tender, add your meat and broth. Ideally, you want the liquid to cover your meat & veggies. It’s totally okay to use water and/or milk to supplement your broth. This is a good time to add more seasoning as well.

Turn up the heat to high and allow your soup to come to a full rolling boil. Cook on high for a few minutes, then cover and turn heat to low. Simmer until your hardest veggies are tender and the flavors of the ingredients have blended together. This means you have to check on your soup somewhat frequently, tasting and testing the consistency of your veggies.

Now: add your canned veggies! If the juice is tasty and not too watery, don’t drain it out; add it to your soup! This will give the broth even more flavor. I’ve especially found that cream-style corn can give weight and balance to the higher, hotter elements of a soup. For example, the very hot red fresno pepper in my kielbasa soup is only balanced by the earthy, starchy element from the corn. Let your soup continue to simmer for about ten minutes while the flavors blend.

Lastly, add your delicate veggies. Your basil, your spinach, your green onions. You want these to cook only until they are wilted, dark green, but not olive drab. You don’t want them to be mushy or falling apart.

Once your delicate veggies are cooked, your soup is ready! Enjoy!

FAQ:

How do I figure out how much meat, veggies, etc. to put into my soup?

Everything in this template is to your own taste. Seriously. Use your best judgment and intuition and individual preference. Ideally, you probably want to have your meat and veggies covered with some broth, so keep that in mind. The best advice I can give you is to do what pleases you and what tastes good to you. If it looks and tastes good to you, it will taste good to others. Let your own taste buds and sense of aesthetics guide you to soup ecstasy!

O’ Great Soup Goddess, tell me which seasonings to use!

My desert island picks for seasonings are a black, white & red trinity: crushed black pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. I swear that you can make anything taste good with the right portions of these three seasonings. If cost is a factor, these are your best bet, in my humble opinion. But again, use what tastes good to you and matches up with the soup experience you want to have! Maybe you want to create a chicken curry soup. Maybe you want a fruit soup that would taste divine with cinnamon. Use what feels right. Sprinkle lightly, taste and then adjust according to your preferences. A great cook uses a wide variety of seasonings, orthodox and not! Just remember not to let your spices overwhelm the food. The spice should complement, not compete with, each individual aspect of the dish you’re preparing.

*My soup is oily. How can I fix this?

A good fix for this is to put a couple leaves of lettuce into the soup, let the oil collect on the lettuce and then fish it out. Repeat as many times as necessary. Another thing that helps is to refrigerate your soup. The oil will harden on the top and can then easily be removed with a fork or spoon. Then you can reheat and enjoy!

**I don’t get it. Where’s the alchemy?

The whole process of cooking a meal is very much an alchemical process. You are taking base elements and transforming them into something almost impossibly glorious! Try not to cook if you are upset or angry. Your mood will affect the quality and taste of your food. Prepare your food lovingly, savor each component, thinking of the wonderful color and texture it will add to your meal. As you handle the ingredients of your elixir, energetically push in your feelings of compassion, contentment, loving-kindness, inspiration, whatever energies you & your loved ones need most. In this way, your cooking becomes a meditation and a ritual for healing and inspiration.

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Make way! May way for divine madness!

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Getting fuzzy around the edges as something prepares to come through. Powerful beginning, striking the match and setting the defixio ablaze.

Make way for divine madness! Open your mouth for the rain of fruit wine to cleanse your throat of the dust from the well-traversed trade roads of life. If you will lift your hands in praise and devotion, they will be covered with the light you seek. The light is the gold you seek; the gold that will buy your unmanifest dreams. Always pay for your desires and experiences with this gold and more gold will always seek you.

In my dream, I am carried aloft by two or three of the Anj. They take me forcefully, although not violently. It is understood that I have little choice in the matter. We ascend towards a bright white-gold light and as we get closer and closer to this light, I melt into thick pools of ruby liquid that the Anj catch in their hands and fashion into a huge ruby chalice. This ruby grail is my new body and I have all the experience of living as this beautiful vibrant cut glass. I am filled with the white-gold light and served to the poor of spirit. The light becomes a fire in their bellies, they are ignited with new passion for life.

My eyes are like hollows with fierce fires behind them. My body is like a portal that allows the numinous to be expressed. I am a chalice filled with the divine madness, and filling you with divine madness when you drink of me.

All the light flowing from me into rainbows bouncing everywhere, into you, into your blood. Spells powerful enough to shake a mountain, gentle as a feather on your cheek. Hands raised to the sky, offering devotion on the vertical axis of reality. The helix rises on fire, flames licking the atmosphere. I’ll connect to you through lightning bursts, complex chains of chaos running from particle to particle, the smell of ozone in your hair. Ashen faces, glorious blossoms bursting from their casings.

I have healed and been healed.

Where once she was pale and slight, she paints herself in all the vibrant colors of nature and even some not found there. She’s gone to the left at the fork in the road and travels in a cloak of twilight, her sanguine mouth glittering rubedo. I am she whom the winds fear, she whose mouth ever flameth, she hisses to the darkening sky. Her skin glows brighter in the gathering darkness and that image encompasses all you can see. She commands all your concentration as you examine the glints in her skin, doorways to other worlds and mirrors of your own majesty.

I am she, I am she. The Grail of Life!

The Breath of God

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Is it sweet? Is it sour? A wise woman said it is all around us and inside us. It smells of All Things. It’s of fresh breezes off the ocean, smelling of salt and sea creatures and their secrets. In the breath of God one may perceive the tragedies of every wreck, the lost loves of those buried at sea and the mournful dirge they sing over the waves, will sing forever more. Gold doubloons, ropes and ropes of pearls, chests full of rubies; these all have a distinct aroma that may be enjoyed by the contemplative. And too, one hears the echoes of siren song from a thousand years ago, and the seductive odor of those lovely beasts. The delicious sea-shaped rocks, granules of sand, rotting kelp, jelly lumps of deceased medusa, these flavor the winds that comprise the breath of God. The ocean smells of sex and death, and that is God.

So too it smells of fresh breezes from the hills, from vast fields of waving grasses and dense forests dark with the hearts of craggy spirits and bright with the scent of jeweled berries ripening, bursting with juices, crushed underfoot. Oak leaves crunched down into the black earth, bruised leaves of nettle and dandelion and all bitter things, mistletoe hanging down to tease kisses. Far back in a meadow in a thicket, the body of a hart lies decomposing, the arrow still in his neck and that is on the breath of God. God smells of the fecundity of all growing things and the leavings of when they die. When we die. The alchemical workshops of fox and polecat produce the fecal prima materia within which other life shall cling with tenacity.

So too the breath of God is the noxious fumes of burning tire at a vast dump of human waste. God’s breath must reek of devastating poverty, unwashed bodies, leathery sun-soaked bodies with the ribs poking out. Spoiled milk and sulphorous egg. God’s breath is an abattoir, a charnel house of burning flesh. One must take care to remember that God’s breath is not only the nice smells of jade and amber, of river water flowing over rounded rocks, of grottoes bedecked with moss and ivy and ancient statuary stained with time. The smell of the latrine is as much the smell of God as is the scent of a lover’s body after coitus or a peach pie cooling on a windowsill. ┬áThe drunk, smelling of cigarettes and cheap booze, smells of God’s breath as does the bleeding, weeping membranes and shameful secretions of the raped. A child’s tears or a child’s vomit. It’s all God and it is all holy.

We are holy, veiled in the exhalations of the divine and sublime.