I could quite happily live on nothing but bread, cheese, coffee and bacon. Hmm... "not even chocolate, or chilli?", you'd probably think. Well, not so much those, though I'd see your point, but maybe, I'd need a bowl of soup too, every now and then.

Too many seem to view the soup pot as an edible recycling bin and fair game for every imaginable scrap that issues from a kitchen. It is tempting to throw ingredients that have seen better days, or that you can't think up any better use for, into the soup or stock pot. This may be a step up from just sliding it all into the garbage bin, but a little more thought and respect when choosing and cooking the ingredients for a soup will bring returns in flavour and satisfaction, all out of proportion to any effort.

Soup is comfort, soup can be love, soup, was my grandmother welcoming me in from the rain, with a soft, thick, almost warm towel, when I'd forgotten my umbrella and gotten so soaked, my school uniform had almost fused with my skin. Soup was me wrapped up all snug and dry, with a steaming bowl of it in front of me, while the rain viciously pelted our windows. So perceptive  was my grandmother, lentils would be simmering on the stove, at the slightest shift in the ether, long before I'd returned. 

The memory is indelibly impressed, even, upon my dreams.  Most often, it's raining in torrents. I'm walking in the rain toward the house I grew up in when my grandmother was alive. I have no umbrella and I'm soaked past my skin, to the marrow of my bones, cold, steely rivulets running down my face, my back, my legs. I'm shivering so hard I can barely speak. I open the creaky gate and walk up the short path to the door, my bare arms repeatedly slapped by the huge, impossibly green, and glistening leaves of her beloved heliconias, as I pass. Before I can touch it, the door opens and I'm shocked to find myself looking down at my grandmother, wondering when and how she got shorter than me. In my dreams, I get the soft, warm towel and I get fresh, crisp clothes. I get to see the soup, but I never get to taste it. I always wake up as I walk to the table, or the dream shifts. Could be why I have an insatiable appetite for soup.

The desire for it is often triggered by my waking up shivering and strangely hungry from that dream which refuses to let go. Usually I end up sitting in front of a bowl of  lentil soup with chunks of crusty bread on the side and a perfectly fried egg, gently sinking into my gingery, peppery lentil mush, just like she made it. I lift a spoonful to my mouth and half expect  her to call from the kitchen, offering me the pepper grinder. She never could get enough of pepper.

Today, I didn't want to wait for the lentils to cook down. I had a generous hunk of my favourite flaxseed bread left from the last batch I had made, and cans of chickpeas that were instantly ready to please. I cut the bread into generous croutons and toasted them to a hearty crunch, just short of charred, so they would absorb the soup but put up some resistance and give me something I could still sink my teeth into.

I did dream of her again. She liked chickpeas. I think she would have liked this too, even without the pepper.