I invented a new soup recipe over the weekend.  I’d been thinking about making a pot of soup for the last couple of weeks. The freezing cold outdoor temperatures encouraged me to put on my culinary thinking cap. 

I gathered my Dutch oven 5-quart pot, special wooden spoon, ladle, and cutting board. Then I chopped and sliced my vegetables. I had forgotten how amazing the aroma of sautéed leeks can be. I added lentils to my simmering vegetables, along with brown rice and lots of cracked black pepper. For the finishing touch, I stirred in some coconut milk.

This new soup was creamy and crunchy, visually appealing, delicious and healthy – what more could you want?

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Years ago, I used to invent new recipes all of the time. I experimented on the weekends dreaming up new flavors of brownies, cookies and cheesecakes and then bringing them into work or to a friend’s house to share. I was so confident about my recipe development skills that I even pitched the idea of creating a recipe booklet for my client, Tuscan Dairy Farms, to promote their flavored yogurt drinks. 

At that time, I was a voracious reader of cookbooks and cooking magazines. I was determined to include strawberry, blueberry and banana flavored yogurt into breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert recipes to encourage consumers to buy more of this product. I had a lot of fun in my tiny fourth-floor apartment kitchen after work and on the weekends slathering yogurt on chicken, making salad dressings, mixing yogurt into granola and oatmeal, etc.

This was the 1980s when Cajun food was popular. I still have that classic cookbook, Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. I pulled that tome off the bookshelf and was reminded of my Cajun cooking phase by all of the hand-written notes I had inserted in between the pages with recipes for fish fillets in pecan butter sauce, barbeque shrimp with rice, southern biscuit muffins, and jambalaya. I also recalled one dinner party that ended up with unexpected guests.

I had invited my friends, Jeff and Diane, over for dinner. They pressed the buzzer downstairs and trudged up the four flights of stairs in anticipation of a good meal and a great dessert. On this particular evening, I made blackened catfish, wild rice and buttery homemade biscuits with cayenne pepper. Our salad was topped with a new dressing I came up with using the strawberry-flavored yogurt drink.

Dinner was excellent. We were stuffed and sitting around the table chatting when we started to smell something burning. I immediately jumped out of my seat and checked to make sure that the oven and stove top burners were all turned off in the kitchen. Nothing seemed amiss. Next, we heard sirens wailing from the firehouse around the corner. 

In a matter of minutes, we heard clomping boots running up the stairs of the four-story brownstone. This building did not have a fire escape. Since I lived on the top floor, my only escape would have been up the creepy dark stairs to the roof in case of a raging fire below. Knocks on the door turned out to be two firemen checking to make sure we were okay. The firemen could see that my friends and I had just finished dinner. “Smells good in here,” a fireman said.

Turns out that a woman on the third floor came home from work, put a pan of soup on the gas stove burner to heat up and promptly fell asleep on the couch. Her soup evaporated and the pot handle caught on fire. The firemen were very nice and wished us a good evening. 

Kim Kovach is a big fan of creativity in the kitchen. www.kimkovachwrites.com