Soup Swap 2015


This is my third time hosting a Soup Swap at my house.  I love having this party so much, but I’ll be honest, it’s a lot of work… for your guests.  As for me as the hostess? Cheese platter, wine, seltzer, and mopping the long overdue floor. Oh, and of course my husband will have you know he spent 45 minutes doing the dishes from the last 2 days.

Every year there’s suggestions from guests about how to make the party better, and that’s awesome.  The original idea came from this website.  This year, where guests brought a crock-pot with the soup in it so we could all taste the soup in my kitchen made it an even easier dinner party, and helped us all step up our soup-making game. I provided 16oz containers to package up our soups.  Easy peasy, and made for that stunning rainbow assortment of soups above.

As an aside, if I had been able to tell my 22 year old self that in 7 short years I’d be hosting a party where it’s required that you can make something (and not just pick up a bag of chips) I’d have laughed at you.  Here’s the list of foods I knew how to cook from scratch a box at age 22.

  1. Pasta.

Short list, huh?

Oh, the times have changed.

Here are two things that helped me change in the meantime.


Here’s the soup I chose from Bittman’s Cookbook, slightly modified.

Lentil Soup with Coconut.

Makes 4 Servings. 1 1/2 Hours, Largely unattended.


  • 2-3 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 T minced, peeled, fresh ginger
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 t tumeric
  • 2 T McCormick red curry powder
  • 1 T McCormick yellow curry powder
  • 1 c chopped canned tomato
  • 1/4 c shredded coconut
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 1/2 c cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 c red lentils
  • 1 qt vegetable stock
  • 1 can (12 oz) coconut milk


  1. Put the oil in a 5 qt saucepan over med-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Turn heat down to med-low.  Add the squash and cauliflower and allow to cook until vegetables are semi-soft (15-20 minutes).
  2. Turn the heat back up to med-high and add tumeric and curry powder.  Cook until dark and fragrant.  Stir in tomato, coconut, zucchini, and lentils.  Add the stock and coconut milk, then bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to med-low again so that it gently boils.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally until lentils and vegetables break apart, 30-40 minutes.  Add water as necessary, taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve.  Preferably with a few shreds of coconut on top.

TaDa!  See ya’ll next year for Soup Swap 2016.


Dreaming of Winter Break Reading


8 Books I want to Finish, Read, or Re-Read between December 20th and Spring Break.

  1. Telegraph Avenue (M. Chabon).
  2. Brother Karamazov (F. Dostoevsky)
  3. Sustainability by Design (J. Ehrenfeld)
  4. The Irrational Season (M. L’Engle)
  5. The Change Monster (Jeanie Duck)
  6. Green to Gold (D. Esty)
  7. Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (H. Murakami)
  8. Speaker for the Dead (O.S. Card)
  9. A Better World, Inc. (A. Korngold)
  10. Disunity in Christ (C. Cleveland)
  11. Good to Great (J. Collins)

Other suggestions? I could modify or add on. 🙂

Winter Break To Do’s

I took my last final on Tuesday and went straight to the library…

Winter break Books

Winterbreak To-Do’s include:

  1. Read lots of books (see above)
  2. Go to the movies (Pitch Perfect, Anna Karenina, The Impossible… all things I want to see)
  3. Hang out with Becka
  4. Hang out with Ellamy
  5. Make mini collages
  6. Create a Montessori inspired – kid friendly kitchen, coat area, and cleaning station.
  7. Write a kick-ass blog series
  8. Re-line my kitchen drawers
  9. Make DIY large letters, Year in Review, fabric art, trucks hangings *

and so on…

*Basically, I’m gunna craft and read and watch.

A Super Soup Swap

So far this winter is like the November that never ends.  It’s blustery, then rainy; cool one day, reminiscent of fall (or spring) the next.  There is little in the way of waking up with a magical muffling snowfall creating iridescent patches of secret space.   I miss my New England right of complaining about winter snow, so I fall back on merely griping about the inconstant weather.

However, it turns out only a little whining is good for the soul, or (well, technically, actually, honestly, really) none.  Instead, according to the Italian proverb printed on the back of my favorite packaged soup, “ “Sette cose fa la zuppa” which translates to “Soup does seven things.  It relieves your hunger, quenches your thirst, fills your stomach, cleans your teeth, makes you sleep, helps you digest and colors your cheeks.””  What could be the only answer to this?

To have a Soup Swap.

Soup swaps turn out to be a popular winter pastime (almost as popular as mustache parties, but alas, I have yet to attend one of those).  There is even a National Soup Swap Day.  So, with the desire for a quenched thirst I invited over 12 or so friends in the anticipation of a delightful even.

On the day of the swap, 7 women attended, bringing 13 different types of soup spanning cuisines from Mexico, to India, to Italy.  11 were vegetarian, with a total of 5 different types of beans, and 2 different types of lentils used.  Happily, we all seemed to agree that spicy soup is the spice of life, and 4 soups were thus titled, and “curry” implying it in others.

There’s a good half dozen ways to swap soup at these types of events, but we listed all of our soups on a board and then went in a circle choosing a container (1 qt) each time. I ended up with five different soups. If the measure of success if delicious soup, new recipes, and a great evening with friends, then a success it was.  I would definitely host a swap again.

One surprise I ended up with was that few people at my party knew one another.  Actually, this happens to me frequently, so it wasn’t a large surprise.  My best hypothesis is that it comes from my persistent habit of making one or two new friends from each activity or job or college that I try, but I fail to integrate my new friends with my old friends, or simply move on to new activities too rapidly.  However, it did make for some very interesting conversations about art therapy, the MBTA, and church plants.

12 Crafts of Christmas: Day 12 Epiphany Celebration

The final post of Christmas Crafts, and a note on Three Kings Day

Happy Three Kings Day!

Guatemalan Creche

So now the wise men have seen the baby Jesus, and this is the end of the Christmas season.  That means, it’s appropriate for me to take down the tree, put up some winter snowflakes, shortly unveil my post about New Years Resolutions, and look forward to Lent as the next high church season.

Starring in the Sick Role in New England

Last Wednesday I woke up with chills, a fever, a sinus headache and the ability to pull a mere wisp of Oxygen through nasal passages where Mucus-guy had taken up residence.   That’s right I had the flu.  I’m always pleased with my body’s ability to evict this temporary resident within three to five business days, but while he was living there, I simply let him storm around.   I gave him no mental fodder and I think he got bored.  Since he’s left however, I’ve learned a great deal about the role of Sickness in normal life, since my reading projects have put me into contact with Talcott Parsons, American Sociologist.

Parsons walked a tightrope in much of his societal analysis between materialism and idealism, which is (despite being a tightrope) a well trod path by many people.  However, because of my recent starring role in the dramatization of “Uncle Flu comes to Visit”, I was mostly interested in this idea of a Sick Role.  Parsons, in 1951, theorized that the actor in the drama has a number of rights and obligations.  She has the right to be exempt from normal social roles, and is not responsible for her sickness.  She also has the obligation to try and get well, and to seek competent medical health.  So there you have it, I wasn’t held accountable for my inability to remember even the simplest concepts proposed in my Anatomy Class, wasn’t required to sit through a whole sermon at church, and couldn’t call the post office yet again about the package they lost of mine. It’s pretty fortuitous that I wasn’t required to do this, because, due to those achy bones and the coughing, I couldn’t rise from the couch.

During the winter time in New England, it seems expected that sickness will invade a person’s life and create this hallowed and accepted deviance.   It’s also assumed that competent medical help and attempts to recover are  warm soups, pain reliever medicines, Robitussin, and a variety of other over-the-counter medications and rest.  However because of these assumptions, in New England there is a pervasive inability to continue dialogue with quite a number of members of society due to sickness and withdrawal.  There is something of an unresolved tension here as people involuntarily remove themselves from the work force, the church sanctuary, and robust debate of ideas.  If anything it contributes to the already much dreaded Seasonal Affectedness Disorder, which is a Sick Role as well.  What can be done?

I’m sure there isn’t a simple answer here to this wintertime breakdown of social relations in New England, and therefore I’m unable to provide a pithy conclusion to this blog post.  However, perhaps there’s something missing from the rights and obligations of the Sick Role.  Or perhaps there’s more to the rights of obligations of the un-mentioned Healthy Role.