The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Primordial soup

Rachael Conlin Levy
Finch painting courtesy of merwing✿little dear.

My fingers paused on the keyboard and my eyes darted to a flash of feathers. Just beyond the computer and on the other side of the window pane, were a half-dozen playful finches chattering and fluttering as the stole seed. These birds, small enough to cup in my hand, are symbols of the genius of Darwin.

The world commemorated Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday this week with town celebrations, a one-man show, and a wealth of diverse news articles highlighting the peculiarities of this man’s life. What I found fascinating in this flood of information was how Darwin balanced his professional and private life. He seamlessly merged his insatiable scientific curiosity with the demands of his family. Darwin’s specimens were found in the family vegetable garden, his laboratory included a sandbox and swing, and his children helped him with his experiments. But his pragmatic approach to his work didn’t develop in response to parenting. As a young man collecting and studying animals and plants on the HMS Beagle, he regularly ate the specimens he collected.

“Young Tortoises make capital soup — otherwise the meat is but, to my taste, indifferent food.” — Charles Darwin, October 9, 1835.

It’s fitting to honor the man who contributed so much insight into our primordial soup with a pot of my own. But not just any recipe would do. I wanted a soup that tasted of that balance Darwin achieved and I’m trying to strike: a soup infused with the flavor of the garden, loved by children, quick to make, yet could evolve into a more complexly flavored dish.

You’ll find that recipe below. And while the potatoes bake, why not celebrate Valentine’s Day by listening to a beautiful story of love within the Darwin family. It can be found here.

Baked potato soup

Vintage poster
courtesy of atomicjeep.

In the bowl:

Cottey College‘s baked potato soup,
courtesy of one of its alumna, my sister Kyna Moser.

On top:

Anything you’d put on a baked potato,
such as cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon bits, chives …

Baked potato soup

Serves 4

6 ounces butter
2/3 cup half-and-half
1 1/3 cups milk
2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup flour
3 1/3 cups vegetable broth
4 baked potatoes, peeled and cubed

Melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add broth while whisking. Add milk and half-and-half. Broth will thicken. Add potatoes and heat thoroughly. Serve.

This is a rich soup, but can be easily modified without harm. In lieu of milk and half-and-half, I’ve used powdered milk and water. I’ve eliminated the salt and used chicken bouillon as my broth. I’ve sauteed onions, celery and carrots in the butter, and added clams and clam juice to make clam chowder. You get the idea.

3 responses to “Primordial soup”

  1. mamapease says:

    this recipe sounds so yummy! The perfect soup for a snow day. k

  2. JLG says:

    Rachael brought me this creamy, warm goodness for healing and love after the birth of my youngest daughter Jordan. Life is good!

  3. Haley says:

    I went to Cottey for one of their camps and they served this for dinner and it was honestly the best potato soup I’ve EVER had (And I work at Panera- yanno the infamous soup place). La-la-LOVE Chef Michael’s cooking <3 <3 <3

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