The messages on my home answering machine are almost always from people I don't know well.
Reminders from the dental assistant.
The Salvation Army, wanting to know if we want to donate anything this month.
But this one was different.
A call to let me know that a very close friend was in the hospital. That she'd had a heart attack. That it was a miracle she was alive. That she would be OK. That she wanted me to know.
I hit replay three times. I listened again and again and tried to hear it differently. I sat down in a daze and dialed her husband's number.
Then a message back. She'd had a heart attack at home. It was a miracle that she was alive. She'd make a full recovery. I could reach her on her cell phone.
Men. So helpful.
I reached the friend who called in the first place. It was bad. It happened at home. She cried out for her son. I'm dying, she said. He called 911. They revived her twice on the way to the hospital. Once again when she got there.
When she got home from the hospital, I went and hugged her for a long time, and I brought soup*.
Miracle Woman Kale and White Bean Soup
Also known as Ribollita, this is based on a recipe from The River Cafe Cookbook.
2 - 3 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
5 stalks celery, including a few inner ones with the leaves, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large or 2 small onions, peeled and chopped
1 15 oz. can plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 bunch kale, preferably cavalo nero, woody stalks removed, chopped
1 15 oz. can canellini (white kidney) beans, with some of their liquid
About 1 quart of homemade chicken stock, vegetable broth, or water
2-3 inch piece of a rind of Parmesan cheese, if you have one
4 thick slices of rustic French or Italian bread, crusts removed, cut into cubes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil, for garnish
In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the parsley, garlic, celery, carrots and onions, lower the heat to medium low, and cook for 30 minutes, until veggies are very tender and the flavors have combined. Add the tomatoes, and continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes. Add the kale and half of the beans, some of the bean liquid and enough of the stock to cover everything completely. Bury the Parmesan rind, if using, in the soup. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes.
In a food processor or blender, puree the remaining beans and add to the soup, along with enough additional stock to achieve a thick but still soup-like consistency. Just before serving, add the bread, simmer for 5 more minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle each bowl with a little extra virgin olive oil, then serve.
Click to print this recipe!
* My text to her:
I hear you are covered for dinner tonight. I'm on for tomorrow. If you have any requests, let me know. I'm guessing not cheeseburgers.
A few hours later, a text came back:
That's when I cried.