A stranger to the kitchen, teen picks up cooking skills nevertheless

College looms and we’ve been working on college skills. The obvious, like living in sweats on minimal sleep. And the far-fetched, like cooking.

Cooking does not come naturally to my pre-college girl. During her formative years, she was deprived of the fundamentals. She has rarely known the empty fridge, cold stove and gnawing doubt: What can I conjure from nothing, in no time?

She has been denied the opportunity to scavenge the cupboards and, goaded by hunger and ignorance, piece together a meal that’s truly awful. She has been driven from the kitchen by the constant industry, the crowded cooktop, the countless demands of taste-this and try-that.

I step aside. Besides, she’s developed a taste for the streamlined cuisine of the insatiably fit. Mornings, she blends kale and coconut water into sludge. Evenings, she stirs instant soup. In the student tradition, it demands no forethought, no recipe, and sullies no more than one dish. It steams hot and wholesome, satisfying the solo cook. And (secretly) her bossy mom.

Instant soup

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 2 minutes

Makes: 1 serving

1 tsp. freshly grated ginger

2 tsp. red miso (shelved near the tofu)

2 oz. firm tofu, cut down to small neat cubes

1 big handful (1 ounce) fresh baby spinach leaves

1 green onion, sliced into long, thin slivers

1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1 cup chicken broth

Soy sauce

Stack: In a large soup bowl, pile up, in order: ginger, miso, tofu, spinach and green onion. Drizzle with sesame oil. Douse with broth.

Zap: Slide bowl into the microwave and zap until hot, 2 minutes. Stir. If you like, drizzle on a little soy. Dig in.

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