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The Safety of Soup

(by Valerie Monroe)

Last night I shared a bowl of lentil soup I’d made at home with my 92-year-old mom in her apartment in New Jersey, where she lives, still independent and sharp as a tack. It was a sweet moment over a comfort food that meant more to me as a child than it does now, but perhaps more to Mom now than when I was young. She pronounced it delicious, and I agreed: It was her recipe, a thick, rich peasant soup that takes about five minutes to prepare and about an hour and a half to cook.

I have vivid memories of walking home from junior high on a freezing winter night, seeing the warm yellow lights in the windows of our suburban house at the end of the road. The moment I opened the front door, I was greeted by the nutty aroma of the soup and the garlic bread in the oven, the anticipation of our happy dinner table, and a feeling of safety f