Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

A Recipe for Soup

by Ann Cavera


Chrysanthemums are blooming. Fall decorations line the porches on our street. The weather is changing and we are happy to be able to open our windows at night. This is a good day to make a pot of soup and here is the recipe.

Look in the freezer and see if you have any leftover frozen broth. If not, open enough cans of broth to halfway fill the largest pot you have. While the broth is heating, brown some hamburger or sausage or find some leftover chicken or beef in the refrigerator. Chop up a couple of onions, carrots and celery and brown these in a little olive oil.

Add the meat, browned onions, celery and carrots to the broth. Peel a couple of potatoes, chop and throw these in, too. Toss in some herbs. Parsley, chives, basil, oregano, dill and savory are all good, but be careful of the dill. A little of that one goes a long way.

After everything simmers for an hour or so, see what kind of other leftover vegetables you might have hiding in the refrigerator. Add anything that is still edible and simmer everything long enough for you to read a chapter in a good book.

When the reading is done, taste the soup and add whatever else it might need. Taste and add salt and pepper near the end. Keep the soup simmering until a hungry person comes home.

Soup is humble food. It takes everything at the end of its time, anything that has almost outlived its usefulness, and pulls it all together in a new and interesting way. Soup turns a little into enough to feed a crowd.

For thousands of years, soup has sustained people in every culture all over the world. In one of the oldest stories of sibling rivalry, Jacob bought the birthright of his brother, Esau, with a pot of lentil soup.

One year our community held a soup supper to raise awareness and money for an ongoing humanitarian crisis in a region of Africa. At our supper, we used a recipe from the region for lentil soup so that we could experience the simple food so needed by those suffering famine. It seemed strange, but somehow fitting, that after thousands of years a pot of lentil soup could still symbolize the lost birthright of hungry people.

Soup in our own family has always been a symbol of God's grace in the face of need. When we lived in Africa, we sometimes ate a rich, thick gumbo when food was plentiful. But, we were never able to swallow the fiery stew our students made using only hot peppers and water when food was scarce.

While Jim went to graduate school, pots of soup saw us through two long, cold Michigan winters. Scarcity is hard pressed to take root when people know how to make soup.

Just as the ingredients for soup can be overlooked or tossed aside, we often overlook God's abundant grace. Making a humble pot of soup reminds us that, even with just a little, we can create something that is more than enough to share with others who may have less. 

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.