My mom owned a little restaurant for a few years when I was a teenager. It was called Soupcon (with a little curly thing under the c, pronounced "Soup's On") and was located in an old grist mill which had been converted to shops, just down the street from our house. The restaurant was tiny (it sat only 22), and had a wonderful view of the river. It was only open for lunch and tea. Mom served two choices for lunch, soup and salad or a casserole and salad, with different choices every day. There was delicious homemade bread, simple desserts and yummy cookies. That's all anyone could need.
So many of the foods I love today are from mom's time at the restaurant, favorite of all is the beef and barley soup. This soup was a staple in our house, and a part of our holiday traditions as well. A big pot simmered on the stove on Christmas Eve, to warm all of our family and friends as they came in from the cold for our holiday celebration. Lots of memories surround this soup.
Of course, mom's recipes are not very scientific... most are written on tattered old index cards (if they are written at all) and were created to serve 50 people, so there's a lot of instinct that goes into getting them just right. Thankfully, I have many of them down (and so does my brother - the most fabulous cook!), so I can still enjoy mom's recipes and the memories that go with them. So now it's back to my beef and barley soup. As always, I'll make enough so I can eat it for a few days, then freeze the leftovers in containers for the next time I have this craving.