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Escarole soup

Two doors down the street is a flat-roofed apartment building; its roof is the immediate foreground of the view from our kitchen window. During the winter, it tends to flood with rainwater, creating an Okavango-esque wetlands that draws gaggles of birds of all kinds. The past two mornings our private lake has been completely frozen solid.

This has added a layer of amusement to our own little nature show. We chuckle as robins and sparrows skitter across the icy surface. Even more interesting is watching the crows figure out how to crack the shell and pull up glittering chips of ice that they wield with pride but obviously have no idea what to do with next.

Cold weather is soup weather. Escarole soup is one of my favorites, and it was my grandfather’s, too.

When he was ill with cancer, the chemotherapy left him with no appetite and no saliva even if he had one. Knowing this was his favorite soup, my mother brought over a pot of it one day. When she got home from running errands, the phone was ringing; it was him. “There’s something wrong with your soup,” he said. “Oh?” She asked, baffled. “It’s all gone,” he replied.

Today would have been my grandfather’s birthday. And thought he’s been gone nearly 20 years, I still think of him often. A hearty bowl of this soup is a fitting way to commemorate him.

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