Be Still My Soul (Recipe: French Onion Soup)
Today is my mother’s birthday. It’s the fourth year in a row that I haven’t mailed her a birthday card, sent her roses, called her on the telephone or wondered how she was spending her day. It’s been four years since she passed away.
Significant days like birthdays and holidays are often very sad after you lose a loved one. The most difficult days for me to get through after my mother’s death was Mother’s Day. All that changed today. This became one of the saddest days for me since she died.
My husband and I took our usual place in the church pew this morning. I casually reminded him that today was Mama’s birthday.
The church service progressed following the usual order. There was a special time of remembrance, in honor of All Saint’s Day, for all our church family who has passed away in the last year. My mother never lived here and wasn’t part of our church family so her name wasn’t mentioned. The recognition of deceased members on my mother’s birthday grabbed my heart. It was almost as if someone felt they needed to remind me that my mother is no longer among the living.
While the irony tugged at my heart, I kept my emotions intact.
However, I lost complete control of myself, my emotions and everything else when the congregation sang “Be Still My Soul”. There was a particular passage that was responsible for cranking up my tear machine to full tilt:
Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.
I slipped out of the pew into the restroom just before the ugly crying started. As I stood looking into the mirror at my red swollen eyes, I reflected back on the words of the song that were the catalyst for the meltdown. What was it about those particular words at that particular moment that made me so sad about losing my mother? The answer that I came up with is that I don’t know the answer. Maybe I’m not supposed to know. Maybe we need to feel sad from time to time to help us get stronger. Maybe the sadness for lost loved ones encourages us to drawn near the ones that are still here on this earth. Whatever the reason, I hope I am doing the right thing and learning the right lesson.
Returning to the pew, I was met by the welcomed loving feel of my husband’s arm across my shoulders. There’s no greater way to say “I love you” than being a support to someone who’s sad or going through difficult times. Maybe that was the lesson that was intended for me to learn today. Despite losing people who I love and miss dearly, I’m reminded that I’m blessed to have my soul mate here with me. And he loves me. Not a single word had to come out of his mouth for me to know that. He said all he needed to say with the arm that was around my shoulders.
Sometimes leaving the sanctuary, missing part of the service and ruining your makeup ends with a sweet tender moment.
Y’all come see us!
French Onion Soup
yield: 4 to 6 servings
After the emotions of the day, a bowl of soul-warming soup seemed to be in order. I had caramelized onions in my refrigerator patiently waiting. Today was the perfect day for them to wind up in the soup pot.
After the onions are caramelized, the rest of this dish comes together in a snap. Caramelizing onions using my slow-cooker recipe is remarkably easy, it just takes time.
Depending on the amount of time you have, you can either continue cooking the soup in the slow-cooker once the onions are done, or you can finish it up on the stove. Either method works well. The soup will be ladled into individual crocks, covered with cheese and broiled until the cheese is melted.
For the cheese topping, you need a good stringy cheese that will stick to your chin as you eat your soup. That’s part of the French Onion Soup eating experience. If you don’t like Asiago or Gruyere, use your favorite flavorful hard cheese.
1 1/2 pints caramelized onions
3 cups beef stock (If you don’t have homemade, use a good quality commercial product)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
French bread or baguettes, sliced in rounds (one slice per bowl)
Asiago or Gruyere cheese, grated
Simmer onions, beef stock, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce until thoroughly heated.
Drizzle bread rounds with olive oil. Toast on both sides.
Drop one toasted bread round in each serving bowl. Ladle soup over bread. Top with grated cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and starts to brown.