Soupathon: It’s all about the hospitality of the soup Wayne Baker is away this week. Guest columnist Terry Gallagher is back with a personal story of family traditions—and recipes, too. the Book Cover to jump to Amazon.We’re taking our theme for this week’s columns from a long-standing tradition in our household of preparing a different kind of soup each weekend for the 13 weeks of fall. I described our Soupathon on Monday, then on Tuesday I explained our Gazpacho tradition.

I have to tell you, when I mention this practice to some people, I can see their eyes stray away or glaze over, as if I’m describing a silly form of self-denial, some obscure ritual of voluntary poverty, a mess of potage indeed.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

One of the great advantages of the Soupathon is that it allows us to lower the threshold on hospitality, and get better connected with our friends and neighbors. That’s a lesson I picked up from the great More-With-Less Cookbook, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The cookbook was commissioned by the Mennonite Central Committee and debuted in 1976. So far, 850,000 copies have sold worldwide.

The authors mention how “people now speak as if they are about to stage a show” when planning to have folks over for dinner. Instead they suggest that offering to share simple food with friends might be an occasion for more genuine warmth, more relaxation, more love. Check out Luke 14:12-13. Or, as the Foreword to the anniversary edition puts it: “In Matthew 25, Jesus says we will be judged more by our sharing of food than by our creeds.”

The whole idea is that sharing a meal should not be a big deal. Instead of elaborate plans, try telling your neighbors to stop by for “just a little soup we’re making.” They’ve already got plans for the evening? Well, “It’s just soup, so stop by on your way for a bowl with us.” This is so simple that it creates no expectation of reciprocity. In this way, as the Mennonites teach, we are easily sharing with others—and building new bonds of community along the way. The truth is: There’s a lot of hunger out there—and not just for food.

What ideas do you have for lowering the threshold on hospitality?

How do you connect with friends and neighbors?

Please leave a comment below and share this story—and this recipe—with friends. Want the cookbook? Click on the cover above. Or,  you can visit the Mennonite cookbook website and sign up for free weekly recipes.



1 lb. dry kidney beans
1 c sliced celery
2 c sliced carrots
½ c chopped onion.
1 T salt
1 bay leaf
1/8 t ground cloves
1 T hot sauce (we use Frank’s)
1 t ground cumin
Smoked turkey wing or ham hock, completely optional.


Cover beans with lots of water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, put a cover on the pot and let them sit for a while. Then, drain or not, up to you. Pour beans into slow cooker (i.e. Crock Pot) turned to high. If you drained the beans, add enough boiling water to cover. Add all other ingredients. Don’t peek for at least an hour. After several hours, check to see if the beans are done, then turn to low. If you added smoked turkey or ham, take it out, let it cool, shred the meat and add it to the soup.
Serve with cornbread.


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Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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