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The memories of tasting a new soup can be as wonderful as the soup itself.  And so it is with this particular soup.

I don’t remember the year but I recall it was around Valentines Day when I was first treated to a taste of this simple soup.  My friends Kathy and Litha had conspired to give twelve of their shared girlfriends the best sort of Valentine ever – an invitation to a luncheon, to share and bask in love from their kitchens and in the love of God herself.

These women did all the cooking in advance.  So guests arrived to be welcomed by the hostesses, to tables so prettily set, that we knew ourselves for the special company we were.  We were seated and waited on, one course after another.  The creamy red soup came first, served with dainty cheese wafers, all home-made.  Then the sweet ending was some type of raspberry and chocolate confection that was almost too pretty to eat.  And I don’t recall what came in between, nor do I remember what was said by any one at the table, though I recall that later we circled up in Litha’s living room to share our favorite biblical passage about God’s love.

But I’ll never forget how it felt to have a seat at the table amidst such fine company.  I felt that this is how the world should be…everyday, not just on special occasions. I felt love all around me.  And the love made me feel infinitely precious.

And how rare this feeling is, that I should still be warmed by the memory of that day, seven or eight years later.  That this should be so tells me that we don’t love each other nearly as well as we could, even those in our closest knit circle of friends and family, forgetting for a moment the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the lonely, the grieving that are strangers in our midst that so desperately need a sign of our love and God’s.

Our knowledge of love grows out of a place of belonging, a place where we feel at home, a place where we are loved and accepted no matter what.  And it hits me hard that I could do this more myself.  And should do this more myself.  And though I try to create a place of belonging within that monthly contemplative prayer class I facilitate, I wonder how the experience would differ if I were to  host the group in my home, at least on occasion, instead of meeting at the church.

It’s food for thought.  And in the meantime, I think I’ll carry Kathy’s soup to next Thursday’s pot-luck supper.  Maybe a taste of it will warm their hearts as much as mine… and maybe it will warm your heart too.  From my life to yours.

Tomato Basil Soup

(Original Recipe — 10 cups of Soup) (My adaption of Kathy’s recipe follows)

1 28 oz can and 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
4 cups of tomato juice or chicken broth

Simmer together in a large sauce pan over medium heat for 30 minutes.

14 basil leaves

Adding basil, puree in small batches in blender or food process (note:  small batches are important as hot liquid is very explosive when being processed or blended).  Alternatively, use an immersion blender and leave the soup in the sauce pan as I do.

Return to the sauce pan.  Add remaining ingredients; heat through, careful not to boil.

1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 pound butter
salt & pepper to taste.

Alternative Ingredient List – Makes about 7 cups

I reduced the fat content and changed the ingredient list for staples I keep on hand.

Using same recipe process described above…

2 14.5 oz cans of petite diced tomatoes, briefly processed in a blender or food processor
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 14 oz can chicken broth
7 – 10 basil leaves
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup light cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper