Sunsoup9

When I was 9, I got my first AOL screenname. This was before coming up with an online handle was as easy as adding some Xs to your favorite emo band name (no? Just me?). You had to give serious thought to your identity and what you wanted to convey to the world. My dad, known computer-user Thom Martin, suggested that I think of something I liked or liked to do and add my age. Sunsoup9@aol.com was born.

I’ve always loved the sensation of being warm. I once got so cold that I moved to Texas. I remain seriously devoted to the sun, soup, and acting like a 9-year-old.

When I decided to devote the coming months to ~radical self-care~, the first thing I thought of was food. I had been eating and drinking like I was going to die tomorrow, eating out a lot with very little intentionality. There is more than one bartender and bagel slinger in Austin that knows my order by heart. When I’m at home, I generally make the same three or four recipes and they each take about 40 or 50 hours, by my estimation. Meanwhile, my roommate, a self-care inspiration to us all, makes a three-course seafood feast in seven minutes. I wanted to get better about varying my meals, incorporating more vegetables, and becoming more efficient, so that cooking didn’t seem like a Herculean task. I couldn’t do this alone. I turned to my best friend, soup.

In Chicago, I regularly went to a fast casual restaurant called Soupbox. It was right by my old workplace and it was my standby forgot-my-lunch-on-the-counter spot. On a recent trip to Chicago, I took my boyfriend to meet my other boyfriend, Soupbox Hearty Beef Stew. For years, I’d been meaning to buy the cookbook, but it seemed silly because I was such a half-assed cook. With my new motivation to take care of myself by becoming a better chef, I finally purchased the Soupbox Cookbook.

So far, I’ve made spicy beef ramen (a goodbye meal for my France-bound boyfriend), beef stew (my favorite from the restaurant), and chicken and wild rice (for when I got sad about the French boyfriend). Admittedly, the health-food element of my soup endeavor has been… lacking. We’ll get there. Here’s what I’ve learned from my soup making:

1. I don’t need a lot of oil. My other ingredients can do the work of oil themselves, if I give them the chance.

2. I may never be able to replicate my restaurant favorites – so I might as well make them my own. I added red wine and more Worcestershire sauce to my beef stew, and it was a dream. Trust yourself. Follow your tastes.

3. The things you liked as a kid are very likely the things you’ll like as an adult, and for me, that’s comfort food and experimenting with concoctions (this time, food). When I had lost myself in my early twenties, my therapist told me to pursue things that I liked as a child to see if they still played to my strengths and enthusiasms today. Now, I paint, I write, I spend time in the sun – all the things I loved as a kid. I was really into digging holes for a while there, which is a hobby I have not pursued further as an adult. Pursuing soupmaking as a hobby is just another application of my therapist’s excellent advice.

More soups to come. If you’re looking for a good soup recipe, message me with your first screenname and I’ll send one your way.

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