Author Alice Hoffman Shares a Soup Recipe for Life

published Oct 23, 2016
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(Image credit: Amy Jean Porter)

This month, we’re delighted to share four essays from The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook about the power of a simple bowl of soup. Today, bestselling author Alice Hoffman shares a family recipe for a life well-lived.

Run away from men on horseback. Don’t breathe. Don’t cry out. Be silent and wait till they ride on. Then follow the path through the woods. Make sure there are potatoes in your suitcase. Ice can be melted from the river. Add berries to make tea. Add fresh mint. Drink deeply. Water will never taste like this again.

Share everything with your sister and brother, even if you go hungry. There’s strength in numbers. Family is everything. One day your sister will save you from a trap made for wolves. Your brother will give you his boots on a snowy night.

Steal if you must. But only from a farmer’s field, or from a shop where onions are piled in a basket. Never take anything from other people. They may need it more than you. They may be the border guard, the ticket salesman, the woman who will give you a map and a loaf of bread.

On a ship across the ocean, eat lemons. Keep lemons in your pockets, think of sunlight, think of another life, eat the rind, the seeds. For seasickness, tell yourself a story that takes place in a field of grass.

When you reach your destination you will see more food than you knew existed. Noodles, bread with sesame seeds, roasted chickens, cakes with raisins and plums. These stocked store windows will make you happy to be alive, but also sad, because you can’t afford anything. At least not yet. Get a job, make a salary, take in relatives, cook in a single pot, remember you can make anything taste better by adding an onion.

Don’t forget potatoes. They got you through the forest, through the sea voyage, through the tent on the dock. Now they can be used to make a soup that is surprisingly delicious. Call it whatever you like. Call it the Recipe for Life. Don’t forget to write it down for your daughter. You never know who will need it next.

Alice Hoffman‘s most recent novel is The Marriage of Opposites, and her new novel,Faithful, will be published by Simon & Schuster in November.

Excerpted from The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes © 2016, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, published by powerHouse Books.

Get the Book: The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook, $22.50 at Amazon