Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blue Flower Soup & Lessons on Friendship

In the past, no one would EVER have described me as a socialite.

It's not so much that I don't like people, but I've always drawn fairly definitive lines when it comes to "friends" and "acquaintances."

For me, acquaintances are people you run into at the grocery store or exchange passing waves with at the post office -- but most certainly NOT the people you choose to hang out with, reveal yourself to, or go out of your way to seek out.  Friends are the ones who fulfill our need for human connection, bonding, and community.  Not strangers. Whenever someone would ask about my friends, I'd always tell them that, for me, it was about quality not quantity, and that I could count the number of friends I had on one hand.

I'm a very loyal person who tends to hold her friends to exceedingly high standards. My devotion to my friends is probably somewhat unusual in its depth and breadth (I really believe friends are worth sacrifice) -- and, I can point to specific scenarios where my loyalty has actually caused conflict due to incompatible (and arguably unrealistic) expectations in my relationships.

So, when I came to Peef four years ago and told him I was planning on putting together an event called Soup Night -- a no RSVP required, large scale, everyone's invited sortofa gala -- he probably looked at me like I was completely nuts.  But, I persisted, insisting that I really wanted to open up my home to others, to build community, and really give myself a chance to get to know people who might otherwise remain strangers.

Rather than shutting me down, Peef fed my dream.  And Soup Night was born.

This year, we've had a particularly rich series of soup nights.  And, for the first time, I feel as if the concept that I had in my head all along is really coming to fruition.  Strangers are making connections. Old friendships are being renewed.  And I'm beginning to realize that our lives are enriched by a seriously awesome group of people.

Even better, much like the villagers from the old Stone Soup folk tale, on Soup Night everyone takes part in this amazing community of nourishment -- both physical and spiritual. There's adventure. And sharing. And somehow, regardless of how many people show up, there's always... enough. It's like nothing I've ever seen before.

This past weekend marked the final Soup Night for 2011.  And it was lovely.  We served three soups -- Reuben (with toasted rye croutons & Swiss cheese), Red Lentil (best when topped with a spritz of fresh lemon juice), and Blue Flower Soup (a creamy cauliflower soup with cracked anise & blue cheese).

Guests brought wine, loaves of French bread, awesome goat cheese, pear, and walnut appetizers, cookies made with delicious homemade poppyseed paste, deliciously addicting Bacon Bourbon Popcorn, cheesecake bars, and chocolate cherry meringues.

And people stayed well past their usual 7:30pm departure time.  It was as if we all knew a good thing was coming to an end and we wanted to make the most of it.

I still believe in quality over quantity.  However, in the past few years I've been blessed to meet quite a number of amazing people who I feel privileged to call my friends.  And soup night has been a big part of that.

Thanks to every single one of you who came... and shared... and participated in my dream.
I can't wait for next year!

Red Lentil Soup
Blue Flower Soup

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Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at FOODCrush, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.


  1. i feel privileged to have made the cut. Who knew that one semi-rhertorical tweet would've blossomed into such a good friendship. :-)

  2. I LOVE it! I feel the same way and connecting with great people over great food is nourishing in so many ways. I wish I were closer--I'd be there in a heartbeat!

  3. I'm happy for you Lo! People and relationships are more important than some will ever admit. I am a bit like you in the loyalty department. Creamy cauliflower soup with cracked anise & blue cheese, now that's my kind of soup! I only wish the guys in my house enjoyed soup as much as I do. Oh well, their loss and my limitation uughh

  4. Paul and I recently joined a food group. I don't know if we'll ever become tight with all of them, but it's a wonderful group of people and we have so much fun. Food is a great bonding vehicle. I wish we lived closer, so we could get invited to soup night.

    P.s. I recently did a "cleansing" on felt great.

  5. It was great to enjoy the soup. Thanks for having us!

  6. It's so possible we'd never have met if it weren't for your implementation of soup nite and stepping out of your comfort zone. I can't believe I've been through two soup nite seasons already, and attending that first one was hugely outside my comfort zone! I can't believe how much we have in common, and you still have me fooled that you don't consider yourself social- I think it is truly one of your gifts.

  7. I'm much more of a close friend kind of gal as well but this event sounds fun enough to invite everyone I know! I'm glad to hear it was a such a hit. It definitely sounds like loads of fun.

  8. So lovely that you start this community. I love how food brings people together

  9. I'll follow your recipe to the last detail and hopefully i can have it done perfectly. 'll try it and share with my family.

  10. I want to come to soup sounds warm, inviting, and altogether delightful!

  11. You really started a great event. The food world really does bring some very special friendships.

  12. This is such a great way to share with your community!

  13. The best soup that i can imagine ever!..Can't wait to try this over the weekend. My kids will surely love this

  14. I really, really, really need to get to this next year. I've always been a small group of friends, guy, myself. Lately the group is SO small that I need to do some recruiting, get out and meet people.


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