laura shovan gets her soup on!

#4 in the Poetry Potluck Series celebrating National Poetry Month 2010.

 Blizzard 2010.


Winter of 2010, we’re so glad you’re gone. It’s hard to believe just a month ago we were buried in snow. You forced us to stay home from work, miss school, shovel our driveways for days on end, and make soup.

Oh, wait. We like that part. Soup, only you could comfort us in our darkest, coldest, snowiest hours.

When I sent out the call for recipes, I was hoping someone would bring soup. We couldn’t very well have a Poetry Potluck here without it. I’m so happy Laura Shovan came to the rescue!

Now, I’ll be totally honest. I love that she made Blizzard Soup. I’ll take soup any time. Just leave out the blizzard. But no matter how we “suffer” through harsh winters, there are good moments, too. Laura captured one in, “An Absolute Vista.” It’s a personal snapshot of a familiar world transformed. Here’s what she said about her poem and the soup:

The poem is about the 2003 blizzard we had in Maryland, when my son was six. (It’s a response to William Stafford’s poem, “With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach.”) I created the recipe for “Blizzard Soup” during the 2010 blizzards. Nothing chases away the snow in your boots like chicken soup. I like to sing Lewis Carroll’s, “Beautiful Soup!,” when I’m cooking this — it amuses me and annoys the kids.

 The pear tree in Laura’s poem.


Our six year old climbed a snow bank at the back door
to walk and meet his father.
The snow was deep.
White erased everything — fences, sandbox.
Ground was something to imagine.

Why would he go?
His weight was too slight
to puncture the icy crust with his boots.
Our son floated on the surface, a dark form
crawling away from the house.

Midway he stopped.
No one near but the wind, racing.

My husband left off sweeping pear branches,
strode deeply toward our child,
and lifted him off that shifting surface.
One body, they turned for home,
each step sinking to the good, solid ground.

© 2010 Laura Shovan. All rights reserved.

No need to wait for a blizzard to enjoy this goodness!

(makes a full stock pot, 8 large servings)


6-8 cups chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
2 bay leaves
3/4-1 lb. chicken breast
Spices (chef’s choice)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 large sweet onion
4 ribs celery
6 carrots
1 can white beans
1 can diced tomato
3-4 cups fresh spinach, loosely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup to 1 cup white wine

Cut the chicken into small dice chunks. Season with your favorite spice mix (we used “Montreal Rub” and cumin), then sauté in the olive oil. While sautéing, put 1 cup of the stock in a large soup pot. Small dice the onion, celery and carrots. Add them to the stock and cook just above a simmer until soft. Drain the chicken pieces and add them to the pot with enough stock to cover. While bringing to a boil, add the beans (Iiquid strained), bay leaves, tomato. Add the spinach, remaining stock and wine. Bring to a full boil, then simmer for 45 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Good topped with shredded cheese!

Nom nom nom . . .

Laura Shovan (“Mrs. Poems”) is an educator, author, and poet from Howard County, Maryland. She conducts poetry workshops in schools for the Maryland State Arts Council, freelances for several Baltimore publications, and is currently writing a young adult novel about a student newspaper. She’s been active in the Geraldine R. Dodge’s Poetry Foundation Program, and her poems have appeared in a number of literary journals. Most recently, her chapbook, Mountain, Log, Salt and Stone, was awarded the Clarinda Harriss Poetry Prize. For National Poetry Month, she’s doing a special series at her blog, AuthorAmok. She’s going on a “Poetry Road Trip” to all 50 states to check out their poet laureates! I also like that she knows her way around Sherwood Forest (ask her about it sometime).

*All photos, except “Snowman Soup,” copyright © 2010 Laura Shovan. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.


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