We moved down from north Louisiana with a closet full of coats.
Raincoats — one for spring and a heavier one for winter — wool peacoats, parkas, windbreakers, hoodies, fleece jackets and even our high school letterman’s jackets because those bad boys are unequaled for their ability to keep one warm.
But no more.
The letterman’s jackets have been moved to tissue paper and a cedar chest, and various others have migrated to coat drives and donation bins. We’re left with a jacket and a coat apiece, now, and more room in the closet for south Louisiana staples like boots, umbrellas and LSU/Saints gear. I’ve also long since lost track of our scarves and gloves, and regret it the two or so days a year it gets cold enough here to warrant wearing them — one of which is usually a Mardi Gras parade, and there are alternate forms of warmth for that environment.
I also moved a box full of recipes for soups, stews and other cold-friendly foods that get more of a workout than does my wardrobe. I love a good soup — one that hangs around with you for a while, but isn’t so creamy or decadent that it puts you to sleep. A soup with a little bite and something to chew on besides the bread it’s served with. A deep, complex soup that speaks of hours of carefully melding flavors into a pot of warm deliciousness that satisfies stomach and soul alike.
Bonus if it doesn’t actually take hours. Because who has hours?
Double bonus if the soup works equally well in the sick bed and on the supper table.
A good soup when you’re sick is special. Spicy enough to cut congestion without irritating sore throats or bringing a string of hacking coughs down on anyone’s head. Comforting, with soothing flavors that tease out feelings of well-being and nourishment from the tangle of coughs, colds, sinus infections, sore throats and viruses whirling around late in the year.
For the rest of the household, the bowl can be enjoyed with wedges of crusty bread, and those same spices and soothing flavors are guaranteed to work magic on cold hands and noses, on shivering bones.
Beth Colvin is The Advocate’s assistant Food editor. She can be reached at bcolvin@the