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I had placed the bowls with soup on the small table covered with a white tablecloth. The table was set modestly, complementing the simple menu: carrot and coriander soup with sweetcorn and onion muffins. Rob had declined my offer of wine with the meal, so I only poured me a small glass of the deep red pinotage. I had opened up the French doors to the back porch overlooking our neighbourhood and situated the table in such a way that we could enjoy the view while sharing our meal and thoughts.

We were having a leisurely Saturday lunch. Discharged from hospital the previous day, Rob was still dealing with the effects of the cortisone treatment he had received and opted to make himself comfortable in the tiny living area in the middle of our cottage. Living and working together, we are used to spending most of our time in each other’s company. Separated for the week, we had much to talk about. I was glad to have him back home and wanted to treat him with a special but unpretentious meal. I have an ongoing love affair with food and preparing meals for those I love is one of my favourite ways of showing my love and appreciation.

The meal required only a few ingredients but had a lot of character and flavour. As I did not have fresh coriander available, I made use of dried coriander together with crushed garlic and ginger, which I fried off in olive oil. To this, I added a tablespoon of fruit chutney, two chopped potatoes and four carrots. After frying these together, I filled the pot with a litre of chicken stock and set the soup to cook for an hour. In the meantime, I prepared the mixture for the muffins.

The simple muffin mixture required 500 gram self raising flour, a packet of white onion soup, 250 gram sweetcorn, salt or seasoning to taste and 500 ml buttermilk. After placing all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mixing it well together, the buttermilk was added. The mixture was spooned into a muffin tray, and baked for 20 minutes at 220 ˚C.

After an hour, the vegetables were cooked and the soup ready for the finishing touches. I pushed the vegetables through a sieve to get a smooth but thick soup and added two tablespoons of Bulgarian yoghurt and a dash of cayenne pepper. I ladled the soup into the soup bowls and sprinkled freshly chopped spring onions on top.

The muffins complemented the soup perfectly and while we languidly lingered over our meal, we caught up on the events of the week.

It is often the simplest of moments in live that bring the most joy to my heart. As I cherished the company of my loving partner and the simple home cooked meal we were sharing, my heart was at rest and filled with gratitude for this specific moment in time. There was nothing to distract us; it was just the two of us. We could focus on each other and this special moment between us.

Not wanting to miss anything of this precious moment, I focused all of my attention to be fully present in heart and mind, enjoying every nuance and inflection. I listened not only with my ears and did not look only with my eyes but also with my heart. I savoured the flavour of the meal and of Rob’s opinions about world events. I took pleasure in the flow of our conversation going back and forth. I absorbed the experience of these peaceful moments, cherishing the contentment it brought to my heart. I was at peace, and filled with gratitude. In the grander scale of things, this was not a momentous event, but to us it was an experience to remember.

With the spicy zing of ginger and coriander our bond with each other were re-established and strengthen. With a simple meal shared, our commitment towards each other reaffirmed.

In the quietest of moments, the strongest bonds are often forged; in the simplest of events, the greatest joys experienced.

©Copyright Micelle Coetsee 2014

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