Do you follow recipes? I use them all the time, but rarely actually follow them closely (which may explain why I had trouble with this one—although we really did try to follow it).

Pop quiz: You’re making this recipe for garbanzo bean and turkey sausage soup. After sauteeing the garlic and sausage, you realize that the only tomatoes you have are crushed, not diced, which means they’re more like tomato sauce than tomato chunks. You:
a. Decide to turn the recipe into tomato sauce and cook some pasta to go with it.
b. Add some of the tomatoes, but only the one cup the recipe calls for.
c. Dump in the whole 32-ounce can, figuring your roommates will help you eat the soup if it doesn’t turn out well (if you’re one of my roommates, you can stop reading here).

So we all just added the whole can of tomatoes, right? Then there’s the cumin, fresh rosemary, jalapeñoswhoops, don’t have jalapeños either. OK, we throw in a chipotle chile, the little bit of chicken broth left in the fridge (probably a cup and a half less than the two cups called for), and two cans of chickpeas. Simmer a few minutes, then taste. It’s not terrible, but not great either. You:
a. Cut your losses and leave it as it is.
b. Add a few more spices to liven it up, then leave it.
c. Add a can of pureed sweet potato. Then the rest of the beer in your glass (Trader Joe’s 2008 Vintage Ale). And coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, and a tiny bit of oregano and basil.

Amazingly, the soup still isn’t terrible. A little odd, yes, but not terrible. You decide it would be good with some black beans, but all you have is a can of Cuban-seasoned black beans. You:
a. Skip the beans.
b. Rinse off the seasoning and then add them.
c. Figure at this point the soup can’t get any weirder and dump in the whole can.

As before, obviously “c” is the correct answer. OK, almost done. The only other things we’re going to add are a can of pumpkin, a bottle of Goose Island 312, and a bit of vinegar. Then blend. No lemon juice or avocado because we don’t have any, and no cilantro because it ruins everything it touches and should never be allowed anywhere near food. It would really be great if it didn’t exist at all.

And despite all that, the soup actually turned out pretty well, especially considering 90 percent of the ingredients came from a can. I don’t know exactly what I’d compare the taste to, but one other person has tasted it and also thinks it’s not bad. Which is why I (like Martha Bayne and all the people who flock to her Soup and Bread nights) love soup. You can substitute and experiment like crazy, and it’ll still come out well. Or at least edible. (If you’re one of my roommates and you’re still reading, there’s a vat of soup in the fridge. It’s not bad, I swear.)