Sylvia’s Soup

This post should have gone up Friday, but I attended a fundraiser and returned home much too late.  Saturday had me on the track at the high school helping with Deb’s Fun Run, which occupies most of the day and means that chores get postponed.


One of the posts lost in the great reboot concerned my frantic search for Christmas recipes. I was struggling because my dear friend Sylvia had died — on Thanksgiving morning,  which also happened to be my mother-in-law’s birthday — and we had only been without her for a year and a half.

My recipes should have been in the file under “C” for coffeecake and Christmas bread. But they weren’t. So I went into “S” for Sour Cream Coffeecake and Swedish Christmas Bread. The first recipe I pulled out had a big “To: Liz Petry” at the top.

It was Sylvia’s “Kicked Up a Notch Escarole and Bean Soup.” As soon as I saw it I knew Sylvia was saying, “I’m OK. And so is Ma.” It carried me through the entire holiday season, though not without a pang for the people who were no longer gracing the world and giving the rest of us support and wisdom.

Sylvia had graced me with the recipe because she wrote “Sylvia’s Kitchen” for the Courant. In this one she opened by admitting that she was addicted to the Food Channel. And that she had just roasted ten heads of garlic. Yikes!

Anyway, the combination of beans, greens, and a garden full of vegetables sounded fantastic. I lost track of the newspaper version of the recipe and asked Sylvia to fax it to me from her office in Middletown to me in Hartford. Yes, this was in the days of fax machines.

The recipe sat around — and then sat around some more after I found it at Christmas. The weather grew too warm but finally cooled enough last week to roast garlic (only one head), chop, and stir.

As I tasted the first spoonful, I regretted that I had waited so long. That melange of onions, garlic, celery, carrots, mushrooms, escarole, and bean embodied the warm person who devised the recipe.

So here’s to you, Sylvia for that “kicked up” soup.

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