February 6, 2019


It's funny. And super dark if you think about it too hard
This weekend, everybody was talking about the Superbowl. Love it, hate it, or act warmly to it at social gatherings but then devastatingly leave it off of your holiday card list, the point is that it was on the minds of the people. Or at least the people who survived the cold, because last week was home to some fun new experiences for me, such as Chicago being colder than Antarctica. Given that nobody I know has access to roaring wood fires and teams of sled dogs, we all had to bear the elements as best we could in less traditional ways. Some people clung to their folding chairs, desperately waiting for neighbors to shovel out parking spots so that they could gleefully "claim dibs" on public property that they in no way own. Some people threw pots of boiling water outside at the snow, I'm guessing in some vain attempt to communally work towards raising the temperature. Me, I huddled for warmth in my apartment, desperately throwing blankets and clothing in front of drafty windows and turning the dwindling contents of my kitchen into increasingly interesting soups which I cooked and ate for every meal. When the winds of winter howl and the cold nights come, nothing warms you up as well and for as long as a good hot bowl of soup. Except maybe someone setting you on fire over a parking spot.


1 standard-issue Onion
4 ribs Celery
3 large Carrots
2 Turnips
1 Parsnip
8 oz. Cremini Mushrooms
2 cloves Garlic
1 Lime
6 threads of Saffron
6 Hot Dogs
1/3 cup Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Peanut Butter (Creamy peanut butter, ideally. Crunchy peanut butter is great, but not so much for cooking with. The "butter" part absorbs in to your food, and then you're left with weird soggy peanut chunks. If a friend tells you to do that, they were never your real friend anyway)
2 tsp Sriracha
1.5 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
Oil for sauteing

Yes, that is a big old list of ingredients. No, I wouldn't have thought to put some of them together. But when you're pretty sure that the only things alive outside are polar bears and the sentient snowmen from Frozen, you don't plan a trip to the market to get groceries. The market is gone. The bears ate the groceries. You make due with what you have on hand, and you make it work. And it totally ended up working. So let's get started with step one, which is to peel your onion and carrots and chop them into bite-sized bits. Now it's time for the exciting part: heating up a TBSP of oil in a pot over medium heat. Because the cold seeps in wherever it can, and if you're exposed enough to be chopping, you're probably going to need a minimum of one fire to stave off hypothermia. (If your landlord complains about the many fires you've lit around the place, just remind them that when the temperature drops below -15, we're legally in The Purge and you can do what you like). Toss your onion, carrots, and celery in the pot along with a pinch of salt, and saute them for 5 minutes, occasionally stirring and muttering under your breath about the cold. Take this time to clean your mushrooms and celery, to chop them up along with your hot dogs, and to contemplate a violent incursion into your neighbors' apartments to claim their blankets and foodstuffs as your own. Go back to your fire to warm up, and while you're there toss your hot dog bits, mushrooms, and celery into the pot along with another pinch of salt. Let that all cook together for 3 minutes before chopping up your garlic and adding it in to the party. Peel your turnips and parsnip, chop them in to medium-sized chunks, and throw them into your sauteing vegetables, along with your cumin, black pepper, saffron, and a medium-sized bear's pinch of salt. Stir that nonsense as it cooks for about a minute, ostensibly to let the flavors blend or something, but really just as an excuse to stand near the fire.

Not pictured: the three pairs of socks, two pairs of pants,
and flannel shirt I was wearing while eating this soup.
Now it's time to cover your food in a deluge of water, completely submerging everything underneath an inch of water, and in no way providing a perfect analog for the walls of your apartment which are closing in on you more and more as time goes by. Add in your sriracha, coconut milk, and peanut butter, and crank your heat up to high. Stir to combine everything together into beautiful homogeneity, and then taste it, adding in salt to your particular tastes. Let your burgeoning soup come to a boil before throwing a lid on it, turning the heat down to low, and cooking it at a simmer for about 25 minutes, so go find something to do. When you get back from setting more fires and pillaging the neighbors, turn the heat off, then add in the juice from your lime, and serve up your soup. It's hearty, tangy, spicy, and a whole lot of delicious. It tastes good enough that you'll almost forget the unspeakable things that you had to do to get that space heater from the people in apartment 3-F. Also, in addition to the deliciousness and the easing of your haunted mind, it will keep you warm and nourished so that you can survive the cold and fend off invaders. Happy apocalypse!