Soup by Recipe, Soup by Sip, Searching for the Broth

The salience of soup occurs in a dialectic rhythm that is systolic in the winter and diastolic in the summer. With each repetition of the soup rhythm, my soup game gets better and better as I my sip becomes truer and truer. I am exponentially departing from a cold bucket of water and asymptotically approaching a hot vessel of self-actualization. Epiphany awaits while I keep a lid on desire in the way I abstain from watching water approach 100°C.

Soup has infinite ingredients and infinite combinations. The soup is the truth, the broth, and the way. How may I experience the soup through its endlessness? How may I experience the soup when there are infinite paths to the broth?

How may I true my sip?

If only it were so simple as said in this New York Times article, “If you can boil water, then you can make dinner.” Take head as this syllogism applies only to the literal boiling of water for the purpose of food preparation, because the truth of your sip is neither implicated or explicated by the boiling of water and by the cooking of food, and believing otherwise is fallacious.

Boiling water and cooking food are exclusive events from the elevated experience one finds in the expression and meaning of accumulated flavor, aroma, appearance, and allure… its chakra… its broth — especially while channeling the broth through a spiritually aligned sip.

Overcoming Cauldron Bias

My concept of soup began, like everyone else, through nurture. I grew up with homemade caldo, but I was not a stranger to ramen or canned soup. These formative soups provided a foundational comprehension for my palate and its expectations. Naturally, I am biased to what soup should be, and I confirm soup based on a my soupy beliefs.

Beware the cauldron bias, for it opens particular and unreasonable mouths while closing starving minds to the soup’s limitless bandwidth. Note however, that our cauldron bias simplifies our lives through a blinkered awareness, and this is perfectly valid.

I took off my blinders, and I learned the way of the broth. I was indoctrinated to believe in one soup and one broth. Then, I discovered pho. It was my gateway to gazpacho, stew, tonkotsu, bisque, and many others. The lid flew off the pot.

Soup by Prescription

I started with a recipe, but the soup didn’t turn out the way the recipe said it would. I tried again with a modified recipe. The soup turned out the way the recipe said it would, but I found it to be insipid — pun intended. I changed recipes entirely, and the soup just didn’t come together.

I was distressed, because recipes give an impression of predictable and beautiful outcomes. Often, positive results come from following recipes, especially the recipes of others who came before and were successful. Could something have been wrong with me? Why, I’ve asked, if I did everything I was supposed to do, did the soup not turn out the way I was told it would?

Maybe it’s because the recipe I was using was meant for someone else. Maybe it’s because the ingredients were different when the recipe was written. And maybe it’s that my cauldron bias got in the way of transpired recipes. Maybe the soup is a lie! Who knows? Who cares?

Soup by Description

I abandoned recipes after I made enough soup to widen my awareness of the soup’s general topology. I believed that recipes betrayed me. My method for soup was fire, water, whatever ingredients were around, and my inductive seasoning.

The soups were delicious, bland, unbalanced, oily, avant-garde, classical, and so on. I had broth all over the place. I would sip as I cooked, constantly making modifications, and never at all finishing. How can I finish something if I have no aim?

I look back on this descriptive soup era, and it’s a muddled, sweet, savory, and bitter broth. It has everything I like, and everything I don’t like. As it sits frozen in a container, it’s a cold broth with hard facts that I thaw upon occassion. Soup by description may have played a role in some of my worst concoctions, and it may have played a role in some of my best broths.

Still, I was missing something. I searched for broth in a prescription, and I searched for broth in a description. I found neither broth or truth in the soup.

I found it in my sip.

Sipping like a Master

There is a sip that cannot be prescribed or described and that cannot be fully articulated or demonstrated. This sip cannot be explained through empirical, observational sipping. For musicians, it’s their touch. For visual artists, it’s their hand or their eye. For writers, it’s their voice. For police, it’s their intuition. For athletes, it’s their muscle memory. For sauciers, it’s their sip. How do they do these things? And why is it hard for others to learn or catch these preternatural abilities?

Emotion.

Emotion explains why these abilities are so hard for masters to teach to students and so hard for students to learn from their masters. When the master sips, the master channels the broth through truth. The master cannot channel the broth if they are untrue. They must be aligned. They must be trued.

My emotions had to become aligned so that the sip could achieve emotional perception above sensational observation. I can smell the soup. I can taste the soup. Hell, I can look at, listen to, and touch the soup. Now, I’m starting to feel the soup. It’s the sip. It’s an emotional process. And it took years of trauma and self-reflection. Just like my soups, I would never do it the same, and I would never do it different.

This truing of the sip guides me when recipes are unavailable and ingredients are unknown, because the search for the broth is abductive.

No amount of ambition, hard work, and prior knowledge can true the sip if using an untrue prescription. The same can be said if using careless description. The broth demands the creative process: it starts in my head, it goes into into the pot, it’s not how I want it, it gets revised, and then it gets served.

I am, by no means, done learning; nor am I a sipping master. Yet, my soups turn out better tasting and more consistent no matter the recipe or the ingredients. Other people like my soups too. In the past few years, I’ve returned to recipes while maintaining descriptive freedom, but it’s not these broths that take me places. It’s my sip. It’s becoming true.

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