Twenty seven years ago, Jim and I were newlyweds. We were also broke. We lived in a suburb of Philadelphia in an apartment that cost 40% of our income. Our place was on the top floor of a building that had been abandoned so long, the people in the neighborhood didn’t think anyone lived there at all.
We were both students – Jim was working on his MBA and I was finishing my bachelor’s degree. Our budget for groceries was only $25 a week. That didn’t go far. If I had known how to cook, I probably could have stretched things a bit further, but I was still learning.
A few weeks after Thanksgiving that year, we were moving into finals week and our money had run out. The cupboard was bare. But Jim’s parents came to visit and they brought a bag of potatoes and a 3 lb. Country Crock container filled with frozen, leftover turkey. There may have been other things (probably corn, chicken broth and carrots), but that’s what I remember most. The bag of potatoes seemed so large that I wasn’t sure how we’d ever use it all.
It turned out that we lived on those ingredients for about two weeks. I would chip off some of the turkey from that brown, plastic tub and add it to boiling broth along with potatoes, carrots, onion and a can of corn. A small pone of cornbread baked in our smallest iron skillet went along with the soup on most nights.
Lunch. Dinner. Dinner. Lunch. We ate that soup for just about every meal because we didn’t have any money to buy different ingredients. We got a little tired of it, but at the same time, it was hot and good and nourishing. It’s one of our fondest early marriage memories.
Recently, I made the soup for our dinner. I told the kids the story. And when Jim got home from work I asked if he recognized the recipe. It took him a few minutes, but he remembered.
There’s not much of a recipe to share here. Add peeled potatoes, carrots and onion to a pot of broth. Boil it until the potatoes are tender. Add leftover turkey or chicken and a can of corn. Season with salt and pepper.
Share a bowl with people you love. And count your blessings.
Do you have a meal that reminds you of a lean time, that turned out to be full of goodness?