The average life expectancy of a new year’s resolution is two and a half weeks. Or maybe 32 days, 17 hours and three turns of a pepper mill. It depends on whether you ask Alexa, Siri or Google. Who measures these things? And how? And why?

We don’t need stats to tell us that resolutions are a futile exercise. It’s at this point in the year that we start coming to terms with not writing that novel, not taking that class, not being thinner or better or more resolute, just our same old selves.

But we remain hopelessly optimistic, we can’t resist the promise of a new beginning. My strategy this year was to go for a small resolution. I wanted to drop from my conversation all the words that had colonised it in 2020: “pandemic”, plus “lockdown” and “bubble” in the context of human connection. Mostly I came to loathe “unprecedented”. In the new year — I thought — I will drop these for beautiful and exciting words: “lambent”, “renascent”, “porphyrogennetos”...

My resolution was an epic fail from the off. It’s hard to form a sentence without “pandemic”, we’re still in lockdown; things are still unprecedented.

I’ve had more success with my other resolution, celebrating the good little moments: the joys of a hot shower, some winter sun, a bowl of hot soup.

Bean and barley soup is a staple in Ashkenazi homes and Jewish delis, the weekday counterpart to the stately chicken soup. It holds its own kind of magic. From few ingredients comes a thick, velvety broth that is rich and nourishing — pearls of barley and soft savoury beans that roll from the spoon and melt on the tongue.

It may be a bit bland in its pure form but it takes well to variations — if you have a few bones from last night’s roast, smokey sausage or leftover brisket, for example, they will be very welcome additions. We add the tiniest bit of spice — we can’t help it — and beetroot, not only for the gorgeous tint but also because its sweet, earthy flavour lifts this humble soup, making it porphyrogennetos: born in the purple, made for greatness.

A generous pot of hearty soup for weekdays (about six to eight portions)

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