The Soup Thief

soupaDay One – Torture. It is nearing lunchtime and I am missing my daily fix. Surely I can make it till dinner. Or can I?

Day Two – I am ashamed to say that I broke down and drove past the store, but success! did not enter, just circled, three times…

Day Three – The cravings have ceased and I have scheduled an exercise class for the same time I usually case the store, though it is unfortunately directly across the street.

I will get through this with or without the help of a higher power.

I am addicted to soup. There I have said it. It began in those formative years of childhood. My mother a soup lover herself made it a family staple. My son’s kindergarten “All about me” poster highlights “Tomato soup with a touch of milk” as his favorite food. He and his brother still have soup almost daily for lunch. I just heard of a study that claims as an adult, you crave those foods you loved most as a baby and youngster. I have loved soup for as far back as I can remember. Zesty Tomato, the steamy, soothing broth of Chicken Noodle, the silky smoothness of “The Creams”… Cream of Chicken, Cream of Celery, Cream of Mushroom, Chowders, both Manhattan and New England battled for top dog in my dreams. When I was bitten by a Dalmatian as a child, I recall the calming words of my father as we drove home…”we will make you a nice bowl of soup.” Yes, I love soup. So the day I discovered a certain market in a certain area of CT that offered complimentary samples of their soups, I was hooked.

But then it turned dark. What began as a simple game of choice spun out of control as I found myself visiting the store often on a daily basis for a quick sample of the fabulous soup. I could never have just one.

The “sample” turned into two, then three as I maniacally went from pot to pot, ladle in hand. I had different routines. Sometimes, I would stand and sample all six choices at a time. Other days, I would ladle one sample into the small Dixie cup set out for those customers who could indeed have just one, and cruise the store casually, cup in hand pretending to find other groceries on my list. On good days, there would only be two soups of the six whose flavor struck my fancy. On bad days which was more the norm, I was torn between all six, repeating the sampling of my favorite ones again and again. When Manhattan Clam Chowder was set out, I could go easily through four dixies.. The travesty of this whole affair was that after my obsessive sampling, I was no longer hungry enough to buy a cup of soup and ended up leaving the store with one or two other needless items I picked up hastily, guilt ridden. I could not help it you see. I really intended to buy a cup of the soup but as each sample turned into one more delicious than its predecessor I found I could not stop, all the while wary of a hidden camera or wily store manager who would pop out from behind the fruit stand and accost me “You!!! NO MORE SAMPLES! We are on to you!”

Yes, I had become one of those people I would watch at Costco or Stew Leonards as they lingered at the sample cart, wolfing yet another pig in a blanket, then circling and returning not ten minutes later for the second tasting. Lunch in samples. I had hit rock bottom. I was that person. I was a soup thief.

I often drive by that market and recall the soup bar. I pray that I am not the feature attraction at the company holiday party. I visualize a group of employees, eggnog in hand, a happy hour of sorts at my expense. They revel around the television as the tape plays. They pause, freeze, then replay again amid snide comments: “Watch how she walks around to Produce, picks up a head of lettuce and then circles back again for another “taste” of the hot and sour!” Howls of laughter. “I wonder what happened to that lady, she never comes in anymore…” I squelch the delusion and pray it is only that. I feel relieved I have conquered my addiction. I no longer frequent the store.

I was in Stop and Shop yesterday and spotted their soup bar. Three simple choices of soup were set out in a tidy row, their steam and flavorful aroma beckoning shoppers. I approached the soup bar, my heart pounding — There were no cups for sampling. I was saved.

9 thoughts on “The Soup Thief

  1. I will never be able to walk by a soup station without thinking of this very entertaining story! It had me giggling thinking of you circumventing store employees and yes, now yearning for a bowl of soup!

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  2. I am giggling while typing. Your stories just make me laugh and smile! I always feel as I’m right next to you during your adventures. I kept picturing the soup nazi from Seinfeld yelling “NO SOUP FOR YOU!!” while you were in the store. Thank you for your clever wit and for sharing it with all of us. I’m in awe of your talent. Now, I think I will have some soup for lunch…. xoxoxo

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  3. Kathy, I totally identify with your soup lover side. When our families gather in Minnesota on Lake Superior every summer, we have our Soup Off one night. Everyone makes their favorite soup. The first one to be eaten is the winner! We usually have at least 4 different flavors. We plan all year for it! Love the story. Miss you all, too.

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