The older I get, the more my soul craves and searches for those things of a deeper, more substantive nature that fill me to the brim with life.
Those surface spaces and places that satisfied my youthful cravings well enough, those “top layers” of life where emotions and feelings came and went and changed on a whim without much understanding and wisdom to back them up, are not the places where any long-lasting foundation can be forged, nor any life-long dwelling built.
But in my youth, they served me perfectly for where I was.
Those surface layers were all that I could wrap my young mind and understanding around, and all that I had the capacity to ingest and digest, and function out of.
But these days, I hunger for wisdom, emotion, understanding, and reflections that come out of the greater depths, the inner-most core, of life.
I long to be moved by the deeper currents that move within and without, that carve and shape in a very specific pattern over time, rather than by an external wind that changes direction in every moment, only causing me to flap about.
When we were very young infants, it was only milk that our tiny bodies had the capacity to gain any nourishment from.
But as we grew, we began to crave more nutrients, more textures, more calories, and more complex flavors in order to quench our expanding needs, and to provide for our growing bodies.
And now, those things that once fulfilled our basic desires no longer have the same pull as they once did before our appetite for things of a more substantive nature began to develop.
And what a beautiful thing that is!
Just as over time the physical body begins to crave and welcome heartier and more substantive meals to enjoy and find nourishing pleasure in, our soul also begins to develop longings for deeper, richer experiences, for wisdom, and for truth.
We begin to crave connection and relationship with our fellow human beings; we begin to long for understanding of who we are, what we were created to do, and how we, specifically, fit into this grand scheme of life.
If we listen closely to the promptings within, we’ll be guided into knowing when what we’re ingesting is no longer of any value, and is merely “empty calories” that no longer supports growth and change.
And we’ll begin to know this because we will be less fulfilled and satisfied by whatever it is that we’ve been taking in.
Our physical beings need hearty, healthy, and warming meals to nourish them in order to be the best and most vital that they can be.
Our souls need to be filled with substantive food as well, in order to expand and evolve.
It matters what we take into our ourselves; and it matters from where we take it.
The hearty, substantive meal that I crave these days is one that leaves me feeling fulfilled, in good spirits, glowing, and joyful.
It provides the most interesting textures, flavors, and nutrients that I need, for where I currently am.
And what could be more satisfying than that?
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Hearty Split Pea and Smoky Bacon Soup with Rustic Garlic-Butter Croutons
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4-6
• Canola oil
• 6 slices thick-cut, apple-smoked bacon, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 2 ribs celery, finely diced
• 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
• 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 4 large cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 pound green split peas, picked through and rinsed
• 6 cups hot chicken stock
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• Squeeze of lemon
• Rustic Garlic-Butter Croutons (recipe below)
-Place a medium-large or large soup pot over medium-high heat, and add in just a small drizzle of oil; once the oil is hot, add in the chopped bacon, and cook until golden and crispy; remove bacon with a slotted spoon, set aside, and wipe out most of the bacon grease, leaving about 1 tablespoon worth in the pot.
-Place the pot back on medium heat, and add in the butter; once melted, add in the onion, celery, and carrot, and saute those for a couple of minutes just until they begin to become tender.
-Add in the marjoram, a pinch or two of salt, the black pepper, and the garlic, and stir to combine; cook for a moment or two until the garlic becomes aromatic.
-Add in the split peas, along with the stock, and stir to combine; bring the soup up to a rolling simmer/boil, and then cover, and reduce the heat to low, simmering the soup very gently for about 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the peas have split and are tender.
-Finish the soup by adding in the chopped parsley and the thyme, along with a squeeze of lemon juice, and check to see if any additional salt or pepper is needed.
-Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with some of the Rustic Garlic-Butter croutons, and a generous sprinkle of the crispy bacon.
Rustic Garlic-Butter Croutons Ingredients:
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 small cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• Black pepper
• ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
• 8 ounces ciabatta bread, sliced into ½” thick slices, and then cubed into small cubes
-Preheat the oven to 425°, and line a baking sheet with foil.
-Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave for a few moments; to it add the pressed garlic cloves, a pinch of black pepper, a couple of pinches of salt, and the Italian seasoning, and mix with a fork to combine.
-Place the cubed ciabatta into a medium-size bowl, and pour the butter mixture evenly over the cubes; toss to coat, and pour the cubes out in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet, and bake for about 12-15 minutes, tossing the cubes occasionally for even crisping/browning.
-Remove from oven and allow the cubes to cool completely on the baking sheet; use immediately, or keep in a ziplock. (You can re-crisp them, if necessary, in a low-heat toaster oven for about 8-10 minutes.)