Wine Soup: A Celebration of Failure

Recently I’ve been sharing my successful cooking experiences. The ones that I write down after I cook them up or the ones that I bookmark to cook again. 

But my cooking adventures aren’t always successful. 

Sometimes my empanadas end up looking more like bao buns. 

Sometimes my frittatas end up as sad-tasting egg crust. 

And sometimes my seafood stew ends up as wine soup. 

(Okay just once, but I was feeling the repetition. Sue me.)

Now let’s unpack that. 

Wine. Soup. 

Soup. Whose primary liquid. Is wine. 

My earliest post-high school cooking adventure started as an order from my mother. My friend and I were to cook a meal for my family because sitting in the living room watching YouTube videos was starting to aggravate her. She didn’t think we could do it all, much less anything beyond salad and chicken; so of course, in typical 18-year-old fashion, we decided to do the most. Or at least what we viewed at the time as the most. 

Thus, we decided upon seafood stew. We found a recipe we deemed fit and got to it. My dad accompanied us to the grocery store to buy the wine for the stew and seemed a little confused when we told him we needed two bottles, but ran with it and kept moving. In fact, it wasn’t even until we finished pouring the wine into the pot that we thought maybe, just maybe, things weren’t right. We read the recipe again, and then again and except for minimal amounts of stock and water, that was it. Wine was the main liquid. 

We told ourselves it would cook off. That the wine mom that undoubtedly wrote the recipe knew what she was doing. I don’t think she did. Or maybe she did, and was finding clever ways to get through the next PTA meeting without actually holding a bottle in hand. Whatever the case, the 1500mL of wine did not cook off. 

And when I served it to my family? Well, they all took one taste and pretended to be varying degrees of wasted. My failure was made known very clearly to me and despite my disappointment with the dinner, looking back, my mom did end up cracking some pretty good jokes at my expense. 

I didn’t want to cook for a while after that. I accepted my fate as a young professional that survives off takeout and forgot about the good parts of that day. I forgot that I loved every minute of the cooking process. From planning the meal, to going to the grocery store, to stressing over the wine ratio of the recipe, I loved it. 

It took me a while to realize that. To get that just like any other thing in life, you probably won’t be great cooking right off the bat. To remember that you can suck at something and still love to do it. 

Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since that night. I cook often and dare I say it, well. But I have a lot to learn and my failures are as frequent as my successes. 

That being said, it’s nice to know that when I’m stressing over the structural integrity of my empanadas, it could be worse – I could still be making wine soup. 

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