Soup is good food

When night falls earlier, days grow cooler, and we all begin to snuggle into our homes as winter approaches, my thoughts turn to what radiates comfort and warmth. It’s not the pellet stove whirring in the family room or my mother’s crocheted afghan or our cat curled against me on our sofa. My thoughts turn to soup.

I grew up humming Campbell’s jingle, “Soup is good food,” in my head while I sipped my bowl of alphabet soup and, in college, I devoured the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books, taking both inspiration and nourishment from the simplest pleasures. I remember the fable of “Stone Soup,” marveling at the traveler’s ability to feed so many with so little.

Whether it’s a get well wish for a sick friend, a light meal to break a fast, or a quick supper when we’re running late, few could deny the healing, comforting qualities of soup, aside from its obvious deliciousness. What’s better than a cup of clam chowder or a pot of beef barley simmering on the stove? And when it’s a pot as large as the one my grandmother handed down to me, it begs to be shared.

With that in mind, we decided to host a soup exchange party with the neighbors last week, gathering everyone to share their favorite recipes and break bread—truly—over steaming bowls, enjoying the meal, the stories, and the laughter that come from easy companionship.

When friends arrived carrying crockpots filled with spicy chili, tomato soup, lentils, and white bean and kale, the aromas enveloped the house. Oh, which to try first? We cupped bowls in our hands, felling the warmth. Ladles were dipped, salads were tossed, and drinks were passed, nourishing us and countering the autumnal chill. “We hunger and thirst, not just for a tasty soup or the pleasure of companionship but for the joy that comes from them.”

In a worldly sense, a good meal unites friends who enrich our lives and bring us together while the food we consume sustains us. We hunger and thirst, not just for a tasty soup or the pleasure of companionship but for the joy that comes from them as well. When partaking in a different meal, though, one that nourishes not our bodies but our souls, we are enriched in a greater, more sacred sense.

At Mass, God provides spiritual sustenance through the Eucharist and reminds us that he is “the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger.” Whether through bread or wine, soup or salad, we remember that it is God himself who nourishes us.

With the crockpots emptied and take-home containers filled, the neighbors left, promising to share all the recipes, so the warmth and comfort could continue as the weeks turned even cooler. Through the spicy chili and white bean and kale were so much better than the alphabet soup of my childhood, I was reminded that yes, in its many forms, soup is good food.