Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Suimono. To Reach Japan.

Writing this letter is like putting a note in a bottle—
And hoping
It will reach Japan.
                        ~Alice Munro, Dear Life

A gray day, long with the work that follows a holiday, and then rehearsal last night. Oratorio music, far too majestic for such a bitter evening. My voice was tired, my throat sore. The gutters were slushy and padded with wet leaves. Pat, already in bed when I got home.

But I wasn’t done yet! I’d planned and shopped for the blissful half hour of reconstruction that remained: this simple soup, first recipe in Betty Crocker’s New International Cookbook.

Five perfect ingredients. Lemon peel, stripped off in a tiny, zingy mist. A tender, glowing carrot, peeled and sliced on the diagonal, so thin as to be translucent. Two plump mushrooms tumbling across the cutting board like fluffy popcorn. And a tablespoon of chicken-flavored Better than Broth, dipped up from a new brown jar.
garnishes for suimono

Can anyone resist the warmth of kitchen sounds? Pat walked out in his robe for a chat, and maybe a taste.

Yet . . . who in the first world doesn’t have soy sauce on hand? I searched the fridge, rummaged through a cupboard. Me, the so-careful shopper and planner, that’s who. It was criminally late, and so cold I’d have chewed tin foil rather than get back in the car.

I fielded Pat’s offer with the lightest of protests. It could be he misses that gal who used to actually fix dinner. It could be. When he returned, he even brought some cheery purple flowers. Now that’s a husband.

Finally, we sat down to our suimono. Clear, tangy broth with pretty wafers of mushroom and carrot. Citrusy strips of lemon, like a promise of summer.

I thought of our son Matthew, in faraway Japan. It was bedtime for us, but mid-tomorrow for him.

Almost as though we were having lunch together.

Suimono (Clear Japanese Soup)

        3 cups water
        1 Tbsp instant chicken bouillon
        1 tsp soy sauce
       Garnishes: thinly sliced mushrooms, green onion strips, celery leaves, thinly sliced lemon or lime, thinly sliced carrot, strips of lemon or lime peel.

       Heat water, bouillon, and soy sauce to boiling, stirring occasionally. Serve in small bowls; top with one to three garnishes.


  1. Lovely. So rich in descriptions... your moment speaks between the words... I read that your husband is ever so loving, and I imagine that to get a man out of his bathrobe, into a cold car/day, to a store, and back again with flowers? well, that speaks volumes in and of itself... :) thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks Kim! so nice to find you here :)

  3. What a lovely beginning to what I hope will be a satisfying career as a blogger! I absolutely want to try this recipe--it sounds simple, yet delicious.