Cook As Needed for Pain, Volume 2: Zucchini, Tomato, and Cannelini Soup

Hey, look everybody, I’m finally following through on something. Here’s Volume 2 of this thing I started working on over two-and-a-half years ago. Please hold your applause until the end.

I planned to stop by Bloomingfoods on my way home from work today and buy a couple of big ‘ol baking potatoes for dinner. Big ‘Ol Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Whatnot is a shared favorite meal of Mrs. Circlepit and myself. It’s super satisfying, super filling, super delicious, and super easy, and since my job and the general state of things are not-so-slowly killing me, both physically and mentally, I wanted dinner to be as easy as possible without ordering takeout or delivery.

After a drive across downtown that was significantly more dangerous and time-consuming than it should’ve been, I arrived in front of the co-op to find their tiny parking lot absolutely lousy with parked cars and people trying to park and people trying to pull out of spaces, and I don’t wanna paint with too broad of a brush here, but most of the people who shop at the co-op drive like dumbfucks and can’t park for shit. My only other option was parking on the street, but I won’t give the City of Bloomington a penny more than I absolutely have to, so I said “fuck that, I’ll figure out something else for dinner” and drove home, wherein I quickly devised a plan for a soup that I think will be delicious.

At first I was figuring on Veggie Chili, which is one of my favorite things to both cook and eat (and which will probably be featured within this feature some day), but I arrived home to discover that we didn’t have any hominy or any canned pinto beans, and as you may recall, I was looking for ease of preparation above all else, so I decided to put on Inlet by HUM and make a soup up as I went along, and now, some 55 minutes later, I have a batch of Zucchini, Tomato, and Cannelini Soup (ZTC Soup) simmering lightly on the stove.

Here’s the list of ingredients in this soup:

2 medium zucchini
2 small-ish carrots
about 1/4 of an onion
1 15 oz can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed (see Notes)
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups of leftover basmati rice
1 28 oz crushed tomato can’s worth of vegetable broth (see Notes)
1-2 tsp of lemon juice
dried thyme
dried basil
dried oregano
granulated garlic
granulated onion
kosher salt (to taste)
fresh ground black pepper
2-ish Tbsp of olive oil


  1. Cannelini beans are basically white kidney beans. I used them because it’s what I had in the pantry. I think this is my first time using them, and I’m pretty sure I bought the can just to try something different. You could certainly use Great Northern or navy beans instead, just be more gentle when stirring – those beans are especially tender li’l guys.
  2. I forgot to check the actual liquid volume of the can before I put it in recycyling. Regarding broth, I like Better Than Bullion brand No Chicken Base. I use that shit in so many things. It’s a galdern miracle of modern innovation. You can certainly make your own broth or stock. It’s very easy, but BTB is easier, and remember: I wanted this soup to be easy like Sunday morning.

I cut everything except the onion to roughly the same size as a cannelini bean, and I minced the onion. Mrs. Circle Pit doesn’t like the texture of onions, so if I wanna cook with them I have to either cut them small enough to essentially hide them or cut them large enough that she can see them and pick them out and give them to me.

I started out sauteeing the onions and carrots in the olive oil. After a couple-few minutes, I added the zucchini and let it all cook for about 5 minutes before adding all the seasonings. Another minute or so and in go the tomatoes and broth. I added the beans just before it began to simmer, brought ‘er to a full-ass boil, stirred well, and then lowered back down to a light simmer (just a few bubbles). It’s been barely simmering for almost two hours now, and I gotta tell you, friends, the flavor on this soup is real dang good.

This is the point where I added the beans. Look at allathem li’l bubbles.

I’m gonna put some rice in it right before serving it, because fuck it, why not? We’re all gonna die someday, might as well enjoy as much rice as possible before our numbers are up. Brown rice would be dope, but I happen to have some leftover basmati rice from last night’s pretty damn delicous Coconut Curried Vegetables with Chickpeas, which is another thing I love to cook and eat, and which may also make an appearance here one day.

I thought about putting some bulghur wheat in it, just for something different, but I decided to use up the rice instead. Bulghur wheat would probably be really fucking good in it, though. You should try that and tell me about it. Just add it before adding the liquid, and be prepared to probably have to add more liquid as it sits, because bulghur wheat is a thirsty li’l sumbitch.

Aw, hell, I haven’t even talked about HUM yet. HUM are a band from Champaign, Illinois. They’re amazing. They’re sometimes referred to as a “shoegaze” band, and they contain elements of that, but they’re more than that. I’ve read the term “space rock” as well, and that could work in a pinch, but it’s still not quite right. The best word I can think of to describe them is “HUM”. You’d probably recognize their song “Stars” if you heard it. It was an “alternative rock” hit in 1995, and was later used in a Cadillac commercial.

Anway, here’s “Stars”…

There are some incredible live performances of this song from the era, as well. You should watch all of them. Just never stop listening to HUM, basically.

They released three great albums from 1991-1995 (Filet Show, Electra 2000, and You’d Prefer an Astronaut), then one perfect album in 1998 (Downward is Heavenward), then they broke up, and I was sad. They’d reunite occasionally to play a show which would inevitably sell out before I even knew it was happening, but otherwise the members stayed busy with other projects. Then on June 23, 2020, they suprise-released a brand new album, Inlet, which defies all possible logic and comprehension by being even better than Downward is Heavenward. Their drummer died last year, so I don’t really know the current status of the band, but their current status in my heart is among my Top Ten All-Time Favorite Bands.

“Waves” is the first song off the album. It’s perfect. It’s all perfect. Inlet is a perfect album. Listen to it.
“In the Den” is the second song off the album. It’s perfect. It’s all perfect. Inlet is a perfect album. Listen to it.
“Desert Rambler” is the third song off the album. It’s perfect. You see where I’m going with this, right?

I seriously love everything about HUM. The vocals sound like they’re being broadcast from inside your very consciousness. The rhythm section is tighter than a hibernating frog’s butthole. The lyrics are always intelligent and poetic, and often profound. And perhaps most important to this guy right here, the riffs are so heavy you need a Tractomas TR 10×10 D100 to drive them around.

Actual footage of HUM riffs on their way to your brain. I love that “ABNORMAL” sign on the front.

It’s all just so goddamn heavy, and I don’t understand how everyone on Earth doesn’t love them.

ADDENDUM: It’s been nearly 24 hours since I started writing this. I had to stop last night, on account of eating some of that delicious soup we were talking about and then winding my brain down to eventually get ready for bed so I could wake up bright and early and feed the slavering masses. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike the concept of “jobs”? I’m lucky to have a job I enjoy, but man, jobs are for suckers. But that’s a discussion for another post.

I’m now listening to Shadows in the Deep by Unleashed (which fucking rules by the way) and proofreading/updating this thing. Here’s a fun dumb game: see if you can figure out which things I added today. Your prize is doing something on the toilet that doesn’t involve reading terrible news. Unless you consider learning about my love for Hum ‘n’ Beans to be a terrible thing. That would be weird though. Perhaps abnormal, even.

Speaking of abnormal, thanks for reading this the whole way through, ya weirdo. If you enjoyed it, why not tell a friend? If you hated it, why not tell a friend? If you don’t have any friends, you can tell me, I suppose.

And never be too gentle with me.

See ya next time, ya freakin weirdo.

Cook As Needed For Pain, Volume 1: Ratatouille

Note: I wrote most of this on August 1, and then I just abandoned it for some reason. I sat down to write this morning, and noticed it there in my drafts, and decided to finish it. Must be your lucky day.

I was making ratatouille earlier while listening to sludgy metal/hardcore NOLA legends Eyehategod’s mindblowing second album (1993’s Take As Needed for Pain) when it occurred to me that I could (and should) make a blog about it. My plan as of right now is to make “Cook As Needed for Pain” a regular feature where I write about what I’m cooking and what I’m listening to while cooking (hence the “Volume 1” in the title), but I don’t wanna get ahead of myself.

Ratatouille, if you’re not familiar with it, is more than a funny and touching Pixar movie featuring funnyman Patton Oswalt as an adorable little rat. It’s also a delicious French stewed vegetable medley that happens to be a super easy way to use up summer vegetables. I first learned about it at the not-very-good French culinary school I attended back in aught-three, but as is typical of things I learned there, I don’t remember much about it. I’ve been making it pretty regularly for the last 10 years or so, though, and it’s really just a delightful dish, and it could only be easier to prepare if someone else made it for you and asked you to reheat it.

The New Food Lover’s Companion (Third Edition) (a book that I still reference on a regular basis, even though the internet exists) defines it thusly:

A popular dish from the French region of Provence that combines eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic and herbs – all simmered in olive oil. The vegetables can vary according to the cook. They can be cooked together, or cooked separately and then combined and heated briefly together. Ratatouille can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature, either as a side dish or as an appetizer with bread or crackers.

Sounds pretty easy, and versatile as fuck, right? That’s because it is. My favorite things to cook are the things I can riff on – chili, gumbo, curried vegetables, ratatouille, what-have-you. I mean, if I wanted to measure a bunch of ingredients, I’d be a baker.

Here’s the list of ingredients in today’s batch of ratatouille:

1 medium green bell pepper
1/2 a small red onion I had left in the refrigerator
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium eggplant
2 medium-sized tomatoes, plus 5 or 6 cherry tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
dried basil
dried thyme
dried oregano
kosher salt (to taste)
fresh ground black pepper
olive oil

Note: I cut everything except the garlic and onion to roughly the same size as half of a cherry tomato, and I minced the garlic and onion. Mrs. Circle Pit doesn’t like the texture of onions, so if I wanna cook with them I have to either cut them small enough to essentially hide them or cut them large enough that she can see them and pick them out.

I started out by sauteeing the onion and bell pepper in olive oil over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, then I added the zucchini and yellow squash, sauteed that for a couple of minutes, then added the eggplant, cooked for another minute or two, then the tomatoes, then the garlic and all the herbs, then I cooked it together for a few minutes, stirring regularly, then I turned the heat down to low and covered the pan. And I don’t mean to alarm you, but the ratatouille is STILL SIMMERING LIGHTLY AS I TYPE!

Just look at this pretty motherfucker!

It was seriously so fucking simple, and it’s gonna be even more delicious than it was easy. Also, I got to listen to Take As Needed for Pain while I cooked it. I’ve definitely had worse days.

This brings us to the end of the original post. All I really want to add is that you should make ratatouille as often as possible, and you should also listen to Eyehategod as often as possible. Don’t let their name scare you, there’ll be plenty of time for the music to take care of that. Thanks for reading.