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Embarrassing Elementary School Story with a Side of Bacon-White Bean Soup and Herbs

(post, Annie Witkamp)

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There’s a story that I think of when I hear SOS. Lucky for me, there’s a commercial that plays every day using this term. I hadn’t thought of this story for quite some time and it’s funny now but was embarrassing long ago.

When I was in elementary school, maybe 3rd grade, my school bus broke down on the side of the highway barely out of town. The bus driver pulled over and radioed for help as most of her “load” anxiously awaited to arrive home. I happened to have my handy box of markers, some tape and a pad of paper so I began making signs for help in some of the windows. I think I had 5 complete when I began handing them to some of the kids to put up. My two younger sisters were on the bus but I can’t recall what they were doing or if they were helping.

One of the older bus riders got a hold of one. I didn’t talk to them, they were older kids! (They were also labeled as “troublemakers” by the bus driver and school.) The older female rider began laughing immediately while I was putting the sign up. I wasn’t sure what she was laughing at but when she stopped, she said something like “Yeah, SOB (followed by more laughing).” That’s right, I had put on each sign SOB with a picture of a bus. Save Our Bus.

I thought I was cool. I thought I had a portal to the “cool” older kid’s world. She began shouting SOB and so the other kids followed. I stood their smiling, so proud and began yelling too and pointing to the passing cars MY signs-SOB! Of course I had no clue what that meant. In my mind, it meant nothing beyond Save Our Bus.

The bus driver quieted all of us. I can look back now and know that she thought we didn’t know what it meant and so she began carefully dealing with the issue. I think she put the older female in the front to keep an eye on her and that’s when I kind of got the clue that I wasn’t informed of something. That didn’t stop me from pointing to the replacement bus helpers my sign. I know today their confused look and chuckles were not from being impressed, as I thought then.

We got on the new bus and began the daily drop-off ritual. I can’t remember what happened or if I even said anything when I got home. I think it was shortly after this incident that I learned what SOB means. I also learned that older kids suck on the school bus. I didn’t live it down until every one of those older jerks began driving or were kicked off the bus.

I wonder where those kids are today. My guess is jail, just kidding. How about a recipe from Food & Wine? Too bad, you’re getting it anyway. I love this soup- I didn’t think that I would. The simple straight-forward ingredients pair amazingly well together and talk about fast. Without further ado-White Bean Soup with Bacon, Thyme and Rosemary.

White Bean Soup with Bacon, Thyme and Rosemary
Serves 4-6

6 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 tsp thyme, chopped (fresh is best, use less if dry)
2 tsp rosemary, chopped (again fresh is best, use less if dry)
2-14.5 oz cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
8-10 cups chicken broth or stock (or veggie)

In a large soup pot, cook the bacon on medium heat until crisp and then remove to a plate with a paper towel to remove the grease. Leave the grease in the pot and if needed, add the olive oil (I didn’t need it), then add the onion, carrot and celery to the pot. Cook over medium heat until softened, maybe 8 minutes and then add the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. Cook a few more minutes and add the drained beans and broth (or stock).

Simmer over low/medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes. As most soups go, you can make this ahead of the meal time and allow it to simmer-it’s even better the second day. Remove the bay leaf, add salt and pepper. I took my hand blender at this point and made the soup thicker but that is not necessary. You can also remove some of the beans and pulse them in a blender or food processor to thicken. When you serve, add the bacon to top it off. This soup was great with crusty bread to soak up the broth-y goodness. It’s pretty low calorie and healthy, making it a recipe I will make time and again.