Waiter, there is a pork chop in my soup
This post was originally written for, and published, in the November 2018 issue of Vegan Life Magazine. You can subscribe to the magazine online here.
Waiter, there is a pork chop in my soup!
As colder weather creeps in and daylight hours shorten (well, for some readers!), one of the most versatile food types regains popularity and springs to life on menus everywhere.
Yes. It’s time to say hello to soup again.
Soup might not seem like a dynamic topic and I’m imagining a few fingers twitching as you all decide if you should skip my column this month, but I promise that I have a silly soup story from my past that will entertain you.
Strangely, it involves pork chops and it serves as study of what we vegans sometimes have to deal with when we live in a non-vegan household.
Let’s take a trip back in time to the 90s when I was a meat-free shop assistant living my pre-Fat Gay Vegan life in Australia, listening to Alanis Morissette and Take That. Circumstance had me house-sharing with a couple who were loud and proud carnivores, meaning I stayed out of the kitchen around meal time.
One blustery Sydney evening found me stumbling into the kitchen to find my housemates cooking up a huge simmering pot of pumpkin soup. My nostrils flared and my tummy rumbled as I was asked if I would like a bowl.
I leapt at the offer.
I was busy pulling open cupboards to grab the utensils I needed when I noticed the most peculiar thing happening. The cook was reaching into the soup with a pair of metal tongs to retrieve two pork chops!
Why were there pork chops in the pumpkin soup?! My mouth dropped open and I must have looked incredulous because the chop-wielding chef told me that there was nothing to worry about. The meat had previously been cooked and they were only using the hot soup to reheat it.
I fled the kitchen and hid in my room for a few hours, shaken by the experience. The story actually makes me laugh when I tell it now, but at the time I was horrified!
If you put my pork chop debacle to one side, soup can actually be one of the dishes to unite vegans and non-vegans and is one of the easiest foods to veganise.
So, let’s have a brief chat about vegan soup and how it can please everyone.
Soup is the perfect food for single vegans. It can be thrown together with whatever you have available, you can season it to match your tastes exactly, and leftovers can be frozen for another meal on another day. There is no such thing as making too much soup!
If you are a big soup fan and you like to experiment in the kitchen, you can be inspired by soup recipes from all over the planet. Carry out a quick Internet search for Mexican black bean soup or the legendary borscht from Russia. You don’t have to be limited to tomato and spring vegetable (not there is anything wrong with them!).
A quality soup is also the perfect vegan stealth move. Take your signature vegan soup to parties, potlucks, and family gatherings and if it tastes amazing, nobody will bat an eyelid. Soup can be veganised easily and I’ve witnessed many plant-based soups be the favourite dish on the table.
Even though we associate soup with colder months, we need to be aware that it isn’t just a winter time concern.
If you are in a part of the world where the weather is warm right now, start to explore the wonder of chilled soups. The aforementioned borscht is a delicacy when served cold, as are gazpacho or the marvelous naengmyeon noodle soup from Korea. I even once enjoyed a chilled watermelon soup in an Indian restaurant in Barcelona.
One of my favourite qualities of soup is that it can be an extremely economical choice. If you can afford some beans and vegetables, plus a decent vegan stock powder, you have got yourself a nutritious plant-based meal that won’t break the bank.
I really am in love with soups all over again. They are cheap, tasty, versatile, and a great way to please all types of eaters. Soups are the food bridge across the vegan/non-vegan divide (and let’s not forget how easily they can be made gluten free).
Just remember to check for pork chops if you are ever offered a bowl in someone else’s kitchen!