Within the plastic isolated globes where we have all begun to live--our wireless connections weaving tangled patterns in an invisible sky--sometimes I feel I'm holding my breath. Waiting for human contact. Warmth. Flesh. And so as the evenings begin to freeze and we dig out the sweaters and flannel, every year I rebel.
Rise up all ye dismal and grey! Denounce thy autonomous ways and come hither....to SOUP!
Yes, this year was the fourth annual North Hills Soup--a party inspired by the hearty, the liquid, the creamy marrow-infused, herb sprinkled, lucious joy that is soup.
For weeks I search for new recipes, tweak old ones, simmer and bubble my afternoons away in our tiny kitchen. (not kidding there--one of this year's quotes was "This is a one-butt kitchen!") I force my family to eat the rejects, harass the neighbors to taste new ones, and whittle the list down to four or five winners. This year I made a spicy Thai peanut shrimp with lime and cilantro, sausage beer & cheese with Guiness and chorizo, butternut bisque, and smokey cream of potato with all the cheese, crumbled bacon, and chives you could load on. As my co-host bailed on me THREE DAYS before the party (she usually brings several soups too--my husband asked how upset I was....I told him I erased her from my cell phone) I had loverly pals that brought a wedding soup, matzah ball, and a white chili. YUM. O.
The invites are a simple postcard I design each year that read: "Bring a bowl, a spoon and a friend. Kids, wine, bread and cheese welcome!" (it's like a contest with the bowls--one year a rather clever fellow brought a muffin tin so he could eat six soups at a time, last year the dog food bowl was a hit and this year it was a tie between the transformer cereal bowl and the finding Nemo complete with a hinged lid and flippy tail) We start at seven and end when the last guest is satiated--usually around 3:30am. It's a simple "Come when you can, leave when you must" that can be worked around other engagements and leaves everyone happy while spreading the guestload throughout the evening.
The music is smashing as my husband is a genius at mixing Santana with the muppets and Moby. From Prince to Michael Buble', Chemical Brothers to Martin Sexton & CC Adcock--it's an eclectic surge of auditory pleasure. There's a guest book to sign and a ballot to vote for your favorite delicacy. Piles of bread and baked brie and goat cheese and scrumptious vittles cover the dining room table, the buffet holds dozens of bottles of wine, and the line into the kitchen for your next dip is an excellent place to meet new friends and catch up with old ones.
We always awake the morning after to a house full of kids that are not our own. I finish off the merlot while making a mountain of pancakes and bacon and dancing to the still playing music. Last year we had over 120 soupers and I've yet to read through the guestbook, but last night was a fantastic collection of intellect, wit, and charismatic souls that laughed and danced and connected in a tradition of simplicity.
I relish the Soup. It revives me, reminds me that the world is made of flesh and breath, not manufactured compounds and synthetic fibers. Our house is not grand, the unfinished trim of a doorway incomplete, the paint chipped in the hall--but this does not hinder our festive camaraderie. For the truth of the Soup, the revelation, is that if you wait until "it" is done....whatever your "it" may be, you will miss out on the authentic happiness that is "now." We all have scuffs and brokens and imperfects...but this is exactly what ties us together. Our humanity.
I made eggs benedict this morning with leftover roasted garlic bread and fully intend to finish the herbed goat cheese on crustini for dinner.
Oh, the sweet reward that is.....the Soup.