The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

EC Eats

The soup that changed my life: Hot soup and homemade bread on a cold day

It was a cold day. 

Rain drizzled from the dark gray overcast sky. I walked to campus with my hood up, my beanie making its first appearance of the season, while my breath caught the air in a fog.

It was one of those days where you never feel like the day really began. The sun is never bright enough to force you out of the morning sluggishness. The world moves slower than normal as people avoid the rain and the chilly outdoors.

I should have been in my bed reading a book (or working on my increasing backlog of assignments) while drinking a fresh cup of coffee and wrapped in a blanket while the rain pattered softly against my window. 

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Instead, I was walking to class, becoming gradually more soaked and chilled to my core. 

But I didn’t mind. I was making soup.

Soup is one of my favorite foods — it’s flavorful, warm, sustaining —  it makes a great meal. But soup on a cold day is a powerful force that goes beyond any meal.

Soup on a cold day, yes, it’s a great meal and it nourishes you for an evening, but it does so much more than that. 

Just the thought, the anticipation, the knowledge that your day will end with a hot bowl of soup, can get you through the coldest day of the year with a smile on your rosy, windburned face. It sustains you through the day hours before the spoon ever meets your mouth.

Then, rarely, your soup experience is so powerful, so surreal, that it sustains you for days after the last of the leftovers are gone from your fridge.

On that chilly October day, I had a bowl of soup that changed my life.

But before I can explain, this soup experience was a multi-day affair and I need to talk about what happened the night before.

My mom was going to be in the area for work that day, so we made plans to meet for dinner. We decided on Subway, someplace we could sit down and talk but was still fast since neither of us had very much time.

My mom is a gardener and has been trying to dispense a surplus of fresh vegetables from her garden. That means everyone she meets receives a grocery bag full of tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini and maybe a squash or two. 

One of my mom’s friends, when she received one of these grocery bags, decided to trade with my mom instead; garden vegetables in exchange for a fresh-baked loaf of homemade rye bread.

But my mom doesn’t like rye bread. She accepted the trade because she just didn’t want the vegetables. So at dinner, she gave me half the loaf of homemade bread. I left the Subway with half of a footlong sandwich, half a loaf of bread, and a bag of vegetables to take home to my fridge.

I woke up on soup day with a plan. 

I went to class in the morning with the anticipation of the meal I would be making that evening. The excitement kept me warm on my walk to campus and powered me through my political theory lecture.

After class, it was time to start.

I brought a pot of water to boil on the stove, dumped in a packet of Bear Creek cheesy potato soup from Walmart and stirred. The powdered mix slowly formed into a liquid and bubbled at the surface.

I let the pot simmer, because everyone knows soup tastes better the longer it cooks. I spread butter on the homemade bread and cut slices from a block of sharp cheddar cheese. Then it was time to eat.

There is nothing like hot soup and fresh bread on a cold autumn day. 

The soup itself was pretty good, it was nothing too special — it was from a packet from Walmart. But dipping the warm homemade bread into the hot cheesy soup warmed me from the inside. It was the perfect meal for the imperfect weather.

That meal continues to linger. Every time I am walking in the rain under the changing fall leaves to campus I think of that soup and feel its warmth again. Every cold day when the wind is blowing and the chill is in the air, the taste of that soup experience lingers on my mind.

As the season changes and the weather gets colder and colder, there’s nothing like a simple bowl of hot soup.

Mohr can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Toby Mohr
Toby Mohr, Managing Editor
Toby Mohr is a third-year journalism and political science student. This is his fourth semester on The Spectator. He enjoys playing tennis, reading a book and writing for fun.

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