When You Bring A Bowl of Soup To A Neighbor

I live in a mixed generation neighborhood. If you want to see babies in a stroller, they live here. If you want to pretend little boys are not hiding in your bushes for hide-and-seek, they live here. If you want a teenage babysitter or a teenage driver, gulp, they live here. We have the middle-aged fit types who walk, run or cycle. And we have the senior set from WWII Vet to retired kindergarten teacher and everything in between.

We don’t know our neighbors really well, but we are aware of their existence, like the older couple at the end of our street. The wife, we see mostly driving her big white Cadillac out of the neighborhood, her miniature white poodle on her lap. The man, used to walk regularly, pumping 5 lb. weights up and down with his arms as he shuffled down the street for about a half mile round trip. The husband would take a break from his workout to talk to Hubby while he washed the car in the driveway.   That’s how we got to know them, a little bit.

Then we learned the couple had a bunch of health setbacks. The husband went to the ER, escorted by his gardener! Getting the trashcans to the driveway was getting onerous. My friend and former middle-aged running buddy filled me in on their plight. She got the full scoop standing at the mailbox in her pink bathrobe when the wife came out for the newspaper one morning. (My friend would want you to know the bathrobe thing is not a regular occurrence.)

“Maybe I could take them some soup?” I suggested.

“I think they would like that a lot. They don’t really cook,” replied my friend.

I made a batch of roasted tomato soup, my favorite. (recipe below) I figured it would make a nice lunch with a grilled cheese sandwich. Since it was right before Christmas, I baked candy-cane shaped cookies like I used to do for neighbors ten years ago. Why did I stop?

Off I went, walking down about six houses to drop off the goods. I stayed for thirty minutes talking about healthcare and comparing hospital notes. Hubby had a stint at the same hospital awhile back, neighborhood news 6 years ago.

I gave them my cell number, “You call anytime you need anything. Your neighbors can take you to the ER.”

She called. She invited us to dinner, her treat, a thank-you for looking after her. She invited my friend and her hubby too.

“Do you have a restaurant preference?” she asked. My mind raced. How should I answer. Hubby’s motto: Life is too short for bad food.

“I can ask my husband, he likes a lot of places. And you don’t have to treat. It was my pleasure to bring soup.” I timidly replied.

“How about Il Pavone? It’s close in case of rain.”

“Perfect! I’ve never been.” We’ve driven by the restaurant for years but never ate there; it’s kind of senior hot spot. Hubby was actually was fine with the choice because he really wanted to hang out with our neighbors anyway.

Our evening was wonderful. We had a pre-dinner drink at my house and moved on to a lovely Italian dinner just minutes away. We never ran out of things to say. Plans for regular get-togethers gave way to nods and “oh yeses.” Maybe my sixteen-year-old, stock enthusiast could get investments lessons from the husband. And maybe, we can do a big neighborhood party with a taco truck this summer.

When you bring a neighbor a bowl of soup, magical things happen.

This quite possibly could be Episode 1 in a long series.

Improv. Fresh out of tomato soup pics. My oldest son’s creation is a pretty substitute.

Roasted Tomato Soup from Rachael Ray’s 365 No Repeat Recipe Book (no link)

12 Roma tomatos: tops removed and sliced in half

2 red onion: cut into quarters

4 garlic cloves minced

olive oil

1 QT chicken broth

 

Place halved tomatoes face down on foil lined cookie sheet. Scatter quartered onions over the tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil, 3 tablespoons. Toss to coat but keep the halve face down.

Roast in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until skin is shriveling or slightly darkened. Flip over halves and roast for 6 more minutes. Saute garlic in pan until translucent. Pour all roasted vegetables, juices and oil into a large pot. Puree with hand held mixer.   Add one quart chicken stock and stir to blend. (For thicker soup, use less broth.)  Salt to taste and heat through.

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6 Responses to When You Bring A Bowl of Soup To A Neighbor
  1. Janis Mitchell
    February 23, 2017 | 7:11 am

    At the risk of altering the focus of your blog…Recipe please. (I can do grilled cheese on my own). Why is it so hard to make the first move with neighbors? I like this post, great outcome for a gesture of community.

    • Francie
      February 23, 2017 | 7:31 am

      Will do Janis! The recipe is at the end of the post. I know what you mean, just the smallest gesture can bring people together so easily. I gave our new neighbors some of those candy cane cookies and now we text all the time about home renovation.

  2. Elizabeth Fishel
    February 23, 2017 | 10:37 am

    Love this story! You’re passing on the goodwill and help that you received after Tony’s accident and making new friends while you’re at it.

    • Francie
      February 23, 2017 | 4:42 pm

      It’s interesting how something that seems so small can mean so much to someone else. I’m looking forward to the “sequels.”

  3. Teresa Caldwell
    February 23, 2017 | 11:11 pm

    What powerful momentum in one simple act of kindness, Francie! Looking forward to Episode 2 (sans bathrobe!)

    • Francie
      February 24, 2017 | 8:55 am

      Bravo! I’m glad you have a sense of humor.;-)

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