Remembering Soup

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By the time I lived with Byrne, she had long-since parted ways with cooking.  She re-heated. Unwrapped. Combined. Added Water. There was a phone call once, after I had moved to DC, comparing what we’d each had for dinner. Me, pizza from scratch by Gary. Byrne, oatmeal with sardines. But it wasn’t always so. In my research for the Byrne Miller Project, I ran across an article in a small Connecticut weekly extolling the dancer’s famous soup. It turns out it was rather famous. (In the blog about her birthday, Benjamin Barney left a comment you should read.) Basically, she started a huge pot of soup whenever a deadline loomed  – a performance, or publication of a school magazine –  and added something to it every time she walked past the stove. She said it was ready when a fork would stand up in it. It stewed for hours, even days, and everyone working on the deadline partook of the pot for sustenance.

I was thinking of this collective soup when I volunteered for the soup-and-salad portion of a progression dinner planned by my friend Jon. The guests/cooks were eight rather foodie types – not starving dancers or students – so I decided to try something a little less random. Okay a lot less random. Instead of chucking whatever was in my fridge into a pot, I made trips to five different stores. Terribly un-green, but there’s no choice when you live in Beaufort, SC and decide to make a green papaya salad and chilled coconut curried squash soup. At least the squash were local – from the farmer’s market Saturday morning. I’m not sure where the owner of Beaufort’s newest Asian food store (called Spout) gets his green papayas and nuclear Thai chili peppers. I’m guessing not from around here.

I’ll never know if the soup would have held up for days – our second course stop lasted only ninety minutes. But it was great the next day for lunch. I only wish Byrne could have tried a taste. 

Thai soup and papaya salad - photos by Mark Shaffer

So now the recipe:

Chilled Thai Squash Soup for eight
2 Vidalia onions, sautéed in 2 tbl canola oil
4 jumbo garlic cloves, added to the translucent onions
2 tsp Thai red curry paste (from Beaufort’s Sprout!)
2 tsp sweet curry powder (from Milwaukee’s Spice House)
2 pounds yellow crookneck squash (from St. Helena Island)
2 cans coconut milk
Bring the lot to a boil for 20 minutes or until the squash is soft. Then gingerly transfer to
a blender and puree in small batches or the whole thing explodes over your kitchen counter. Chill and serve with dollop of plain non-fat yoghurt and chopped cilantro.
My writing desk, as progression dinner table

2 thoughts on “Remembering Soup

    Will said:
    November 16, 2010 at 11:21 AM



    mark shaffer said:
    November 22, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    Beautifully done. Wonderful soup. Passable photos…


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