Soup provides deliverance from barking dog
This afternoon, 42 months and 13 days since buying our townhouse, I tried something for the first time.
With a slice of crusty bread and a bowl of cannellini bean soup balanced in one hand, I slid open the door to our balcony, arranged a hand-sewn cushion into the seat of a deck chair and enjoyed a bowl of soup in the barely warm October sun.
Eating soup outside, after all, is just the kind of thing one is meant to enjoy in October when one owns a townhouse with a balcony.
A seasonal rite of passage at a time when the weather stops lending itself to lemonades and ices and begins to call for coffees and bowls of things that steam.
It is just the kind of thing one is inspired to do when, for the first time in 42 months and 13 days, one is not being pressed toward madness by the lunatic barkings — and left-to-ripen-on-the-lawn droppings — of the dog next door.
After 42 months and 13 days, you see, the dog next door, a boredom-barker known for his great endurance, has left the building.
This once prodigious howler, who I at first thought to name Old Yeller (for want of that story’s happy ending), thought otherwise to call King Lear (howl, howl, howl, howl), simply became known as Next Door Dog.
It was an animal from which there seemed no relief and which damaged my calm to the point that souffles began to fall and yeast whither under the fearsome pressure-cooker of my own angst.
And, it was there, in this state of mind, that I began to visit unkind thoughts toward man’s best friend.
Exactly how much Valium-in-a-hot-dog, I wondered, would be enough to purchase a single afternoon of peace?
Exactly how much MSG would be required to season a slightly sinewy, medium-brown dog?
Would I miss my eardrums if I stabbed them with chopsticks?
Chefhusband, not so easily provoked, suggested I try reason.
“Hi,. I live next door. I don’t know if you’re aware, but I can hear your dog when he barks. P.S. The dropping in the backyard are unpleasant,” I wrote on friendly notepaper and affixed to the neighbour’s door.
“Hi. Your dog seems lonely during the day. He barks and howls a lot,” I wrote when nothing changed.
“Hi. Please attend to your dog’s barking problem.”
Finally, one day there came a reply.
“Do you ever stop complaining?” it said.
“Don’t move into a townhouse if you don’t want neighbours or a little noise,” it said.
At that moment, awash in a soup of cortisol, I heard the sound of a withered branch in my psyche go snap!
And so, by the next time Next Door Dog had barked at our shared wall for three hours without pause, I did walk down my stairs, out my front door, into the lane, barked back at Next Door Dog and forever cemented my standing as the neighbourhood crazy lady.
That was a year ago.
Yet, on this day, I am listening to the sound of beautiful, precious silence I did not have to purchase with prescription hot dogs.
Because, on this day — this very day — a moving truck did pull up to the curb, let down its ramp and, within a few hours, did deliver all of my dog problems away.
Today, I am eating the soup of my deliverance.
Cannellini bean soup
8 slices bacon, diced
1 shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 cans (14 oz. each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsps. white wine vinegar
1-oz. cube parmesan cheese (left whole)
4 cups organic or homemade chicken stock
Flaked kosher salt
In a medium stockpot, cook bacon over medium heat until most of the fat has been rendered.
Using a wooden spoon, remove most of the bacon bits and set aside, leaving behind the drippings.
To the drippings, add shallots and garlic. Saute until soft.
Add drained beans, vinegar and parmesan. Add stock. Simmer for ten minutes.
Remove from heat. Puree using an immersion blender (needn’t be smooth).
Season and serve garnished with bacon bits.
Darcie Hossack is a food writer and author of Mennonites Don’t Dance (Thistledown Press). For past recipes, go online to nicefatgurdie.wordpress.com. She can be contacted at