Saturday, 22 September 2007

The Tao of Soup?

Ok, ok, I know that's a bit of a weird title. But I had a neat Taoist reminder today while making soup.

It is getting a bit chilly out, and it is officially Fall now, so I wanted to make some soup, potato soup in particular. I didn't have any vegetable stock, so I had to make some, which I've never done before. Fortunately, there was a recipe for vegetable stock in the latest edition of Mother Earth News magazine, which just came in the mail yesterday. Also fortunately, I was able to collect a lot of the ingredients for the stock from our little vegetable and herb garden: carrots, celery leaves, parsley, oregano, chives and some fresh basil...mmm! The potatoes I bought at the Farmer's market and they came from Erdmann's Gardens, which is only about 10 kms from our house. I did end up putting some non-local things in there, like some onion and some dried herbs, sea salt and pepper corns and a bit of soy sauce. Oh, and two cloves from the head of garlic I got with my seed order from Saltspring Seeds, but it was still probably one of the most locally-sourced things I've cooked so far.

Anyway, back to the Tao part. I had simmered the stock for about 20 minutes when I thought I would taste a bit of it. It was watery, and I was disappointed. I immediately thought about what I should do to fix it, what else I could add, etc., etc. Then it hit me: I am supposed to let this simmer for hours. So I managed, with some difficulty, to just leave it alone and let it simmer, with the occasional stir and taste now and then. After about 2 1/2 hours it was quite delicious. This was a lesson to me that sometimes I just need to let things be, and they will work out as they should. It is a lesson I need frequent reminders about, being the well-intentioned meddler that I am.

From the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 63:
Act without acting
Manage without meddling
Taste without tasting
From Chapter 64:
The one who meddles will fail
The one who grasps will lose
Therefore, sages do not meddle and thus do not fail
They do not grasp and thus do not lose

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