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From Soup To Sangha

Homemade soup – whether it is Cuban Black Bean or Roasted Broccoli - is the perfect antidote to this cold, wet winter. Chock full of fresh veggies, this meal in a bowl sates both mind and body.

But what if you just don’t have time to make it today? I bet one of your friends does. That’s what LES neighbors, yogis, and Soup Club Cookbook authors Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Laskow and Julie Peacock, realized. So they started a club and wrote a charming book about how to do it.

Not only do you learn all you’ll need to have in your larder, how to make soup for 18 people but – perhaps most important – the girls give their playlists for while you’re cooking and 150 great recipes for soup, veggies, salads, snacks, etc.

YogaCity NYC’s Elysha Lenkin sat down with yoga teacher and Soup Club member Julie Peacock to learn more about how it is done.

Elysha Lenkin: Where did the idea for Soup Club start?

Julie Peacock: Tina was over with her kids for a playdate, and she suggested that we think about how we can cook for each other more — to help each other out, and ease the brunt of cooking for kids and a family — which you have to do, three times a day no matter what. I said I would love to do that.

It was October, we were getting massive amounts of food from the CSA which was amazing, delicious, and sometimes random — like how do I eat two gigantic heads of cabbage? So that was another benefit of the club — getting to use all of this cabbage and squash that can be hard to figure out how to eat myself.

The next day we emailed Caroline and Courtney. We thought they would be perfect because they are reliable, and we were already in the habit of sharing food with them — we’d bring over a quiche or a lasagna when someone had a baby, and on special occasions we’d make extra cookies — so it was not a stretch to think of them making big pots of soup.

EL: What excited you most about doing Soup Club?

JP: To come home on a Wednesday, and find the soup at your door is such a pleasure, a present and almost a surprise — we wouldn’t tell each other what we’re making in advance so there was this excitement.

I’d always put a spoon into the jar, and taste it right away because I was so excited to get it. Then we’d always text each other, (and say) this is great, or this is how we ate it, and this is what my child thought about it. I think we were excited about the act of sharing, but also the act of receiving, and how it would help create a little space around the hectic lives of four busy moms as all moms are.

EL: What’s important to know about starting a Soup Club?

JP: You need to have a common place of convergence. We all live in the same coop so that it made it really easy. My sister in law is doing one in Denver, and the four of them have kids in the school. They have coolers and they bring it in the car, and drop it off at the school. Because we live so close, we can walk it over, and drop it off at each others’ doors. So we suggest people find a common place— maybe it’s a yoga studio.

I practice Mysore, and I could envision people doing it with people they practice (yoga) with. Every morning whenever you come in for your practice, you may not see each other at the same time at the studio, but if it was your soup week— you come in, and drop the jars off in the fridge for those people in the club. And when they come in to practice they could get their jars.

EL: ‘What makes a great soup mate?

JP: You need someone who is committed. But soup is forgiving— the bar to entry is quite low so they don’t need to be a good cook. Some of the recipes are a little more detailed, and some are super simple. But all of them can followed quite easily. You just need to be committed - and really you just need to be committed that one day a month. But you are asking someone to be committed no matter how busy life is because inevitably your soup day falls on your busiest day of the month. Somehow it often happens that way. You try your best to plan it out in advance. You go to the green market, or do your Fresh Direct order by Monday, and then you can cook on Tuesday, and then package it up to and deliver on Wednesday.

EL: What was the intention behind the book?

JP: As we started to talk about the book, and putting together a proposal, the idea is we want people to create a community around food and share food on a regular basis.

And to have these intentional practices in their lives where they are offering up themselves for others so it’s not just cooking for me and my family. It’s like this: I’m going to choose to be a part of a community, and I’m committed to this community, and committed to this act of sharing and generosity. Giving is just as amazing as receiving.

EL: Sounds like a sangha.

JP: It is so much about this sense of a sangha because there is so much enjoyment of life when we can share with

others. And when we can practice this openness to others, it’s that sense of offering your time, your energy and your efforts. Sure, it’s Soup Club, but it’s about unleashing this virtuous cycle of food sharing, and it extends beyond making soup for one another — it’s how you can bond together to share the ins and outs of life with each other. And one of the ins and outs is cooking— it’s really enjoyable a lot of the time, and then it’s drudgery a lot of the time. Everyone has got to eat. So why not figure out a way to share in that process.

Visit their website for more information. To buy the book, click here.

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