Silver Linings and Soul-Stirring Soup

Although there are certainly well-founded reasons for disliking the year 2020, I am growing weary of the clichés. Like it or not, everyone has been affected by the pandemic on some level, and there’s no question that it sucks. For some people, those effects are far-reaching and deeply embedded. My heart goes out to those who fall into this category. For others, the pandemic has caused minor inconveniences and a slight disruption to the holidays and their traditions. Sadly, I have watched multiple times as the latter group complains more loudly than the former. 

I am not here to pick apart society, however (not in this round LOL). Negativity is an addiction, and in the end, being negative about the negative just feeds into it, fueling it, giving it the energy to create a blaze bigger than it deserves. 

Instead, I am here to celebrate the beautiful things about this past year. The bright lights in the darkness. The silver linings in all the grey clouds. In keeping with the ideas spread in episodes of “Some Good News” with John Krasinski, there are stunning, breath-taking, fabulous things happened all around us this year, every day. I like to think of them as “the little things that matter most in this world.” Sometimes I think those “little things” are too easy to lose sight of. If ever there was a year to appreciate them, this would be it.

For me, three of those “little things” appeared in my newly shared office space in late August. The three little things were brimming with overstuffed boxes, for some reason an excessive number of mini-fridges, and wonderfully eclectic personalities with laughter that overshadows the beauty of a rainbow after a storm. 

I’ve known these three women for a while, but I didn’t really “know know” them. On one of the first days of the new school year, it dawned on the four of us that not only would we be sharing an office, we’d also be taking lunch during the same period. After eating lunch alone for years at work, I thought “Hm. Okay, I like these gals…this could be okay…”

Half a school year later, the word “lunch” has become synonymous with friendship, laughter, and kindness. “Lunch” has brought forth not only one of the most delightful components of the year 2020 for me, but also some of the most genuine friendships I’ve ever known in all my years. For this, I am eternally grateful to the year 2020.

As I mulled over recipes to include with my tribute to my three silver linings, many ideas spread out before me like a lunch buffet. The tomato soup recipe (“it was kind of chunky…was it supposed to be?”), burritos from the Mexican grocery store (“at this point in my life, I’ve had enough of spicy if you catch what I mean…”) or the lovely pineapple banana fruit dish (“are you seriously putting that on your table???”) were all contenders. Friendship bread was an option, but the instructions just sound kind of gross (who likes to “feed” their sourdough starters? Yuck.). 

Nothing complicated would work here, because that just wouldn’t be fitting. Certainly something classic. Goodness knows, nothing terribly healthy. My mother’s sugar cookie recipe almost made the cut, because the four of us could polish off a plate of those faster than an ex-husband bolts out of a courtroom…

In the end I decided on a soul-stirring, uplifting variation of soup that is relatively new to me but has is destined to be a part of my cooking repertoire for years to come. It seemed quite fitting. A hot bowl of “Southwest Chicken Chili” is bound to warm the cockles of your heart (Ladies…please. Keep it clean… 😂)

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