In a quest to fulfill my promise, I chose Friday as my night to cook. I asked P if he was craving anything in particular. After a thoughtful three seconds of consideration he landed on Cheeseburger Soup. It was as if he had already previously decided what we were having for dinner that night…
P: Let’s have cheeseburger soup tonight.
Me: Ok, I’ll make it.
P: Can we make it together?
Me: But it’s my one night to cook. Why am I feeling protective over this role?
P: I know it is. I will let you do all of the hard stuff.
Me: Well, ok.
Cheeseburger Soup is a Moss family tradition and one of P’s favorite meals. Ever. The recipe lives in the Moss Family Cookbook (binder) we have in our kitchen. It’s one of those meals that have a standard to meet and I’m pretty sure the secret ingredient is one-tablespoon magic from Mama Moss. With that said, I’ve only ever assisted in the making of the soup. Meaning, Patrick let me melt the butter.
Although he was the one to request my weekly cooking, it seemed as though he wasn’t ready to let go control over this recipe. That was fine with me. I still got credit for my cooking night and didn’t have to do everything on my own. Win-win.
I offered to go to the store after work to pick up the necessary ingredients. My only request was that P send me the list of what we needed. Rain Man, as I affectionately call him, can on-demand list every ingredient we have in our kitchen cabinets. To some it may seem strange. I find it oddly endearing. About an hour later, I received an email with my list.
Subject: Cheeseburger Soup Grocery List
Okay babe, here’s what we need;
1 lb ground pork
1 bag carrots – not the chlorine filled baby carrots…
1 bag celery
1 bag russet potatoes (brown ones)
Chicken Broth – 48 ounces
Velveeta – 16 ounces
Milk – 2% half gallon
Sour Cream – 8 ounces
We have the rest of what we need at home!
Ok, two things to note.
- Chlorine-filled baby carrots. I read an article last week describing how baby carrots are made and how they are filled with chorine. I shared the article with P and told him we are no longer going to support the baby carrot industry. I’ve since looked on snopes.com and it appears it’s only partially true. Regardless, Patrick thinks I’m crazy (probably not just because of the chlorine-filled baby carrots statement) and finds joy in pointing it out.
- Did you know potatoes come in four different colors? Brown. Red. Yellow. White. When I first received P’s list, I went through each item to note if I had any questions. I read “1 bag russet potatoes.” I then said, out loud, “what are russet… “ before I saw his clarification. The brown ones. Sometimes it’s scary how well he knows me.
List in hand I stopped by Sunfresh. Solo trips to the grocery store on a Friday evening terrify me. Everyone is in a hurry and there is so much pressure to locate your items quickly and move out of the way. Can a girl get two seconds to locate the chicken broth, please?
I grabbed my cart and started with the vegetables. I browsed the Wall o’ Veggies and found some carrots. So many to choose from. I knew I needed the big carrots. The ones you have to wash and use the peeler. I found a bundle that looked promising and detangled it from the masses, only to discover the stem and leafy part (I’m sure there is some scientific name for it) were exponentially longer than the carrot. It was really some stem and leafy-ness with a little bit of carrot. If this carrot were a person I would have told them to get a haircut.
After spending way too much time trying to fit the bundle into the awkwardly sized, always slightly too small, plastic baggies the grocery store provides, I gave up and found a pre-packaged bag of large, bald carrots. In the cart they went.
I quickly found the celery and rolled my little cart over to the meat section. (I like to use the mini-carts – less of a chance to run into people and the apple display). The meat section gives me anxiety. Patrick spends so much time inspecting each packet to pick the right size and type we need. I had no idea where to start. But with my goal in mind to make it through this shopping experience without asking a single soul for help, I forged ahead and miraculously found what I needed between an old lady yacking on her phone and a mother with five children hanging off her cart and her limbs.
The next few items were easy. Chicken broth. Milk. Sour cream. Only Velveeta stood in my way of freedom. I needed a solid block of Velveeta cheese. Go on, judge if you feel the need. I like to think of myself as a smart person. Wouldn’t you expect the Velveeta cheese to be with, oh I don’t know, the rest of the cheese in the store? I walked up and down the cheese aisle three times. Nothing. I then searched for someone to ask. I figured I just wouldn’t tell P that I had asked anyone. No one in sight. Clearly I wasn’t at the store with a “helpful smile in every aisle.” It was more like “we’re understaffed, find it on your own.”
I stared at my phone. I really don’t want to call him. I looked up and down the cheese display one last time. The Velveeta wasn’t there. I dialed his number.
Me: I can’t find the Velveeta.
P: Did you look for it with all the other cheese?
Me: Yes, Sherlock. I did.
P: Look in the Mexican aisle.
Me: Ok. I’ll go look.
I kept him on the phone and steered my cart towards the Mexican sign six aisles away from me. I have this theory that all cart manufacturers either add a squeaky wheel or they misalign all four wheels. Well, I picked the misaligned cart. And almost crashed into three displays while trying to talk on the phone and steer. That rule against talking and driving shouldn’t just be for the road.
Me: Ok, Mexican aisle. I’m looking. I’m looking. I’m looking. Nope. Not here.
P: Are you sure?
Me: Yes. Is it supposed to be here?
P: I don’t know. That was just a guess.
P: Well, just go get a 16 oz. package of American Cheese slices and we will use those.
As I turned back down the other side of the store to made my way back to the cheese, I started to ask him why the store has a vendetta against Velveeta. Before he answered, I almost ran my cart into another display. Low and behold, it’s the Velveeta! Oh, that sneaky Velveeta. Hiding in a corner display before you get to the other cheese.
Me: I found it! Gotta go!
To celebrate I picked up a few additional items that weren’t on the list. Can you spot them? Oh, this will be fun. It’s like an adult version of “I Spy.”
I pulled up to the house, loaded all six bags into my arms and trudged up to the door. I will break my back (and some eggs) to make it all in one trip. I hate going back to the car for a second load of groceries.
With ingredients unloaded and recipe in hand, P divvied up the responsibilities. It became clear I wasn’t in charge of the cooking that night.
P: Alright. You will be in charge of the meat and combining the ingredients. I will cut the carrots, onions, celery, and potatoes.
I quickly realized that P had taken any task that required use of a sharp object. When he said “I will let you do all the hard stuff” he really meant “I will let you do anything that doesn’t require a large knife.” Whatever. He loves to chop. His knifes are his toys.
My first task: Brown the meat.
A monkey could brown meat.
Oh, look, all the meat in the pan.
Yep, it’s still there. A little bit more brown.
And there it sits. Browning.
It takes a while to brown two pounds of ground meat. And there weren’t any other steps I could take until all of the meat browned and the vegetables were chopped.
So I poured a glass of wine. And waited.
And bugged Patrick while he peeled, chopped, sliced, played with his knifes.
Then I had to sauté the onions, celery and carrots with the spices.
Me: Where is the Parsley?
P: Use the bag in the cabinet.
Me: Which bag?
P: (comes into the kitchen, opens up the cabinet, reaches back into Spice Narnia and pulls out a little bag of parsley) This bag.
Me: Oh, that bag. Sure, that bag.
P: It even has a label.
Fifteen minutes later, ingredients were ready for combination. 10 seconds later, ingredients were combined.
Now came the time to make the roux. Yes, I know what a roux is. P said I could handle the roux on my own. Hey, look at that, I’m melting butter. Again.
I made the roux and let it sit to bring it to a boil.
P: Just put it in the pot.
Me: But it says to let the butter and flour come to a boil before you add it to the soup.
P: It will be fine.
Me: But that’s not what it says.
P. It will be fine.
Me: Are you sure?
P: Yes, I’m sure. It will be fine.
P: (walks out of the kitchen)
Me: It will be fine.
Roux in the pot.
Me: What do we do next?
P: What does it say?
Me: Oh it says we reduce the heat and let it simmer.
Me: Hey, why won’t it stop boiling? I reduced the heat. Simmer!
P: Yeah, don’t worry about it. It will be fine.
Me: I’ll just take your word for it.
Me: Ok, I’m going to cut up the cheese into small pieces like you taught me so they melt faster.
P: Don’t use that knife.
Me: Why not? It’s a knife. It cuts.
P: Because it won’t cut it as easily.
Me: It will be fine.
It wasn’t. I ended up tearing the cheese into smaller pieces because the knife didn’t work so well with this particular cheese. I hate it when he’s right.
Me: When do we add the sour cream?
P: What does it say?
Me: Oh, it says to add it now.
I now see why he wanted to “help” me make Cheeseburger Soup.
P: Ok. Now, since you’re the chef, you have to taste it. Don’t burn yourself.
P: Does it need anything else?
Me: No. I put in all the ingredients.
P: I mean does it need any more salt or seasoning?
Me: How should I know?
P: Well, how does it taste?
Me: Tastes good to me.
P: Let me taste it.
P: Yeah, tastes good. Let’s eat!