Last fall our family bit the bullet. After years of complaining about our cramped 1950s-vintage kitchen, we decided: It’s time! So we hired an architect-contractor, drew up the plans, and were ready to roll. We planned to begin right after the autumn festivals and finish up by Hanukkah — New Year’s Eve at the latest.
Simple, right? Right?
For one reason or another the work didn’t begin until early November. Our guy projected a three-month time frame that forecast a finish well before Purim. Various delays — the most aggravating concerning the floor guy — ultimately pushed the grand opening till just before Pesach. Have you ever moved your kitchen into your living room for four months?
As those of you who’ve redone a kitchen well know, the new kitchen is really a minor issue; the first problem is what to do with the stuff already in your old kitchen. For one thing, everything — including the kitchen sink — must go somewhere.
Here’s how we reconfigured our living space: All pantry stuff, pots and pans, and dry goods are now boxed in the guestroom. Sorry, guests! Everyday needs, such as peanut butter, breakfast granola bars, the coffee maker, and the Scotch, are laid out on tables brought into the living room.
The fridge, dislocated from its former kitchen post, now guards the entrance to the living room. You might recall seeing it on camera when, in the comfort of my living room, I was interviewed by KING 5 News about the “blood libel” controversy we’ve all forgotten about. Ketzel, the cat, also upstaged the honored interviewee with a guest cameo, stalking through the room looking for his bowl.
As for cooking gear, we made do with a single-burner hot plate, a crock pot for cholent, a microwave, and a soup kettle.
We ate mostly on paper, to avoid having to wash the dishes in the bathtub. Not exactly “green,” but hey: Look at the electricity we saved!
The place may look like Costco, but it’s cozy. We have lived like this for — count ’em — six months!
But necessity, they say, is the mother of invention! In order to minimize cooking clean-up (in a living room with no counters or sink, and a bathroom with a back-breaking bathtub squat for dishwashing), we pioneered a way to extend our Shabbos chicken soup so it becomes the foundation of a meal that lasts most of the week. We call it “Eternal Soup.”
For the benefit of other families in the throes of kitchen remodels (or simply wanting to downsize life a bit), we would like to share the recipe for “Eternal Soup,” the miraculous soup that cooks up for Shabbos and, like the lechem hapanim (the “Bread of the Presence”) of the Temple, that stayed fresh from Shabbos to Shabbos, grows tastier as the week unfolds.
The foundation of “Eternal Soup” is your good ol’ Shabbos chicken soup. Make it the way you (or Mom or Bubbe) usually do, but leave the chicken parts to steep in the broth on the blech over Shabbos. By Saturday night you’ll have a thick, gelatinous stew which, after it cools by Sunday, will be the foundational “lead” of an alchemical transformation into the “gold” of “Eternal Soup.”
Here’s how you work the magic.
First the ingredients:
2-3 cans of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
1-2 cans of any bean you like (i.e., great northern or even chickpea)
A couple of diced carrots
A couple of diced Yukon gold potatoes
1 pound of stew meat
Any leftover cholent from Shabbos (crucial for “gravitas!”)
1-2 cups of pasta (any shape, except egg noodle!)
A healthy slug of cooking wine (preferably red)
Any seasonings you like
Now for the simple, easy-to-follow instructions:
Remove chicken bones from the stock in your chicken soup pot.
Dump them in yard waste (they make the soup a bit gritty by Wednesday, plus there’s the danger of getting a wing bone stuck in your gizzard — not recommended!)
Fill the pot halfway with fresh water from the bathtub (it’s gotta be the tub!)
Add remaining wet and dry ingredients, except for pasta.
Simmer covered for several hours on hot plate.
For last 15 minutes of simmering add pasta and turn off heat.
Serve with hot sauce (to taste) and a dollop of Tofutti parve sour cream (highly recommended!)
The result is a classic minestrone-like crowd pleaser that, if necessary, can nourish four for dinner Monday–Wednesday, with bread and green salad. Of course, you can start dining on your “Eternal Soup” as early as Sunday, but that’ll leave Wednesday and Thursday open. I recommend using Sunday as Island Crust pizza day. That gets you soup through Wednesday.
On Thursday we heat up canned veggie chili. On Friday: make another batch of your mother’s (or Bubbe’s) chicken soup and repeat the cycle.
Can you think of a better way of feeding your family out of a single pot all week? Our soup pot gets its bath Wednesday night, rests on Thursday, and is ready to rock and roll on Friday!
This is how the Jaffees have survived the Winter of the Kitchen Remodel. Extra added benefit: That hot plate really cranks out the heat on those chilly, rainy Seattle evenings! Double extra added benefit: there’s no better way to deal with cold cholent.
So — any takers for Monday night dinner chez Jaffee?