Wow, this Winter weather just makes me ravenous. A quick trip outdoors and I come into the house hungry and cold and ready for something warm and tasty right away. It seems all my recent posts have been about food, and I guess I am waxing nostalgic more than usual about comfort foods of days gone by. Well, if you can stand more reminiscing … today, while I was standing at the stove slowly stirring the saucepan filled with canned condensed soup, I was recounting wonderful soups I’ve supped on back in the day. Nothing like a steaming and simmering cast iron pot of soup on the stove and the promise of that tasty soup coursing through your entire body after a long, cold commute home. For years I took the bus and brutal Winter temps or snowy days like we’ve seen throughout January are just despised by people who take public transportation. Though I only had a few houses to walk down the street to catch the bus in the morning, when the bus showed up in the a.m. or p.m. was sometimes another story. After the end of the workday, my bus buddies and I would often queue up for extended periods of time, huddled together in a bus shelter built for about ten people tops, peering down the street for the next SMART bus. You were grateful to see that big white bus with its orange stripes as it rounded the corner and you’d quickly pile on and settle in for the long commute home. Often the bus would groan along the snow-covered roads or the engine sometimes would whine and sputter in fits and starts in the cold weather as you made your slow journey home. Crossing Fort Street after hopping off the bus was an adventure, especially when huge banks of snow or slick roads made it difficult to cross, even with the streetlight. I’d arrive home, Winter weary and oh so glad that I had a warm house to spend the night in. Many times I’d be so happy to be home for the night, I’d leave my keys in the door in my hurry to shuck my warm weather gear and sit down to the aromatic dinner that I smelled just as soon as I opened the door. Oops! My mom loved to experiment with different soups and would try several new recipes during the course of the Winter. She usually always stuck with her favorites though: Sweet and Hot Italian Sausage with Spinach Tortellini Soup, Mary Ruggles Kielbasa and Cabbage Soup, Pauline’s Pot Roast Vegetable Soup and the more traditional Split Pea and Bean soups. The latter two were chock full of Honey Baked Ham pieces left over from our holiday meal. Often she’d send me to the butcher shop to get a soup bone to simmer all day with each new pot of soup. Once each Winter season, Mom would also make her Chicken Noodle soup laden with big, fat doughy noodles made by hand and which resembled cauliflower chunks. It was a recipe her grandmother passed down to her. My great grandmother lived on a farm and when she wanted to make chicken soup in the cold months, she’d trot out to the coop, pick out a chicken, sharpen the axe and … well you can guess the fate of the poor chicken, but he made a tasty broth. My mom’s soups were always enjoyed in hearty brown earthenware French Onion soup bowls with their stubby handle and heavy lid, ladled right from the pot and enough soup was saved for the following day, then the rest was portioned into Tupperware bowls and tucked up in the freezer. By March, there was a nice variety of soups to pick from and merely pop into the microwave. The highlight that accompanied the homemade soup was hot garlic bread slices. My mom would have the small bread slices sitting on a cookie sheet until she saw the whites of my eyes, then popped them in the oven. I couldn’t get out of my work clothes fast enough. Today, I thought of those delicious homemade soups that I just sort of took for granted through the years while I sipped my canned Cream of Tomato soup from an over-sized mug and munched on my grilled cheese sandwich, which oozed Havarti cheese from each end. Well, this soup fest sure was not the same, but I must concede, that I agree with Campbell’s proclamation that “soup is good food” … oh yeah.