I love Fall… the crunch of leaves under my feet, picking apples at the local orchard, and pulling out my slow cooker for easy-peasy dinners that will simmer away all day and make my house smell all kinds of yummy. As I was making a big batch of my mom’s Beefy Veggie Soup the other day I started thinking about how making soup is kind of like writing a romance novel.
Say, what? I can hear you questioning my rationale. Wouldn’t be the first time someone’s done that (cue nodding hubby here.) But, stick with me, okay?
With both making soup and writing a manuscript, you have to decide what you’re in the mood for – something warm and comforting (like a cozy contemporary?), maybe a nod to grandma’s recipe (historical?), or perhaps something spicy that’ll get your taste buds all riled up (who doesn’t love a little erotica every now and then?)
Once you’ve got your mouth watering, you can pull out a recipe and get to work. Gather your ingredients like veggies, broth and a protein or in the case of a novel: the lovable cast of characters, a few plot twists and a happy ending. For my soup I might have to chop, sautee or dice. For my manuscript I have to toss some characters together, mix in some conflict and bring it to an overflowing boil before serving up my happily-ever-after.
Need a little more spice? Add a dash of salt or another pinch point to your plot. Not thick enough? Mix in a little cornstarch with water or give your antagonist a few more scenes. If the recipe isn’t working you can tweak it to your heart’s content until you end up with just the right mix. (How many rounds of edits do you typically need to create a masterpiece?)
And when you’re done stirring and simmering and salivating you can sit down, pour yourself a hard-earned glass of wine and watch your hubby clean up the mess you made while you were “creating.” At least that’s my dream. Usually I end up doing dishes for an hour and crawling back to the computer for one more read-through of my final draft.
In any case, no matter how you like your soup—comfort food, something new and experimental, or putting a new twist on an old standby—I wish you many fall evenings of easy dinners and productive word count. And to start you off, here’s my mom’s recipe for…
Beefy Veggie Soup:
5 cups ground beef, cooked & drained
2 tsp. salt
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup celery, chopped
¼ cup butter or margarine
28 oz tomatoes, whole or canned, chopped and drained
¼ cup flour
15 oz tomato sauce with bits
48 oz beef broth
10 oz frozen mixed veggies, thawed
Brown the ground beef, drain and set aside. In a large pot, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook until it forms a bubbly paste. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until celery and onion are tender, for several hours. Or add everything to a crockpot at this point and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Season to taste and serve with a salad and a loaf of crusty bread. Mmm!