Redden Away the January Blues with Tomato Soup

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

January is a bleak month for us humans. The festivities of Christmas and New Years have passed and we’re back to all things real-life. For many of us it’s freezing outside and the sun sets at what feels like 2:30 in the afternoon. Whatever worries or tasks we were able to shelve during our time off work and sleeping in and over-eating are now back without December’s buffers. If you overspent at Christmas, credit card bills are coming; If you began a diet or an exercise program, you’re sore and ravenously desiring chips.

We don’t even have Downton Abby this year.

I was reminded yesterday at church of our January plight when I spotted an acquaintance on the other side of the aisle. I wished her a Happy New Year with heartfelt enthusiasm and asked her how she was doing. “I’m in a serious New Year’s rut” she said. “This is just a hard time of year.” First, let’s just thank the Lord for an honest reply at church. I was so happy for her vulnerability because I’d been battling a little of that myself.

The top of the year can be difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is that the parties are over and we’ve got another 12 months of routine ahead—some of which are monotonous or overwhelming or just plain lonely. This is precisely where the tomatoes come in.

Just what I needed last week at my friend Bethany’s house.

Make Tomato Soup and Invite Your Friends Over

The tendency at this time of year is to isolate. And this is exactly what you and I cannot afford to do. As the author of Hebrews puts forth, we can’t stop gathering together. We need to be encouraged and spurred onto love and good works, and if ever there was a month in need of extra spurring, it’s January.

I know what you’re thinking—you can’t add another dinner party to this already crazy month, you’re over your grocery budget from Christmas, your house isn’t put back together and you’re finding pine needles in the bathroom. I have a challenge for you…

Grab 1 (28 oz.) can of whole tomatoes and invite some friends over for tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, anyhow. I’m not even sort of kidding. (See recipe below). If you’re not a cook—it’s tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, loved ones. (If your friends are gluten free or dairy free or don’t like tomatoes, I don’t know what to tell you about those friendships.) You wouldn’t believe what a simple meal around a table will do for your souls. It doesn’t have to be Pinterest-board fancy or expensive. I’ll say it again: tomato soup.

Gather for the Purpose of Encouragement

When speaking of the early church, Reuben Welch put it so beautifully in his book We Really Do Need Each Other: “They were being together as Christians, not just Christians being together.” So when you make your soup and gather together with other believers, do it with the intent of encouraging one another in matters of the faith. This doesn’t mean you have to go around the table and have each person recite her favorite Ten-Commandment. Just be intentional about sharing honestly and praying for each other. Remind one another to live with an eternal perspective . Cheer one another on in her God-given giftings. Speak about the things of Jesus. You’ll leave the table knowing you hadn’t only been believers who got together, but you will have been together as believers.

Let’s not let this month get away from us without pushing through the chill of winter with fellowship around the table. We can’t neglect gathering together. Especially not in January as that Great Day is approaching and there’s soup to be had.

Tomato Soup Recipe

Directions

In a saucepan melt butter and saute onion over medium heat. After onions become translucent saute garlic for 2 more min. Add tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add pinch of red pepper flakes and heavy cream. Stir. If you have a handheld mixer puree whole tomatoes in soup to the desired consistency (chunky or smooth). If you don’t have a handheld mixer let cool and puree in food processor, then return to saucepan. Or, use a potato masher.

(optional) In another pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and saute for 3 minutes or until tender. Then add zucchini to soup once pureed. I like to add the zucchini for flavor and texture.

Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Ingredients 

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1  yellow onion, diced

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (save juices)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 zucchini, roughly diced (optional)

Salt and Pepper, to taste

optional garnishes: sliced basil leaves, Parmesan cheese

 

 

 

 

  • Debbie

    I Love tomato soup … And friends … And Jesus …. And not particularly in that order !! We moved , for the thousandth time , 2 years ago . I still haven’t made any connections in our new town… Makes me sad but I’m praying this is the year my tribe just comes to the door ! Until then , I’ll make some soup and warm my heart thinking of friends far away . Happy new year !

    • Kelly Minter

      I can’t imagine moving often. I’ve only lived in two places my whole life. Maybe you can invite some people over and they’ll become your tribe 🙂 Thanks for being vulnerable. Praying this is a great year of community for you.

      • Debbie

        LIfe is an adventure… Heaven is my home, these places are just bad layovers! 🙂 Being a “midwest/southern girl”, I have found myself living in the great White north for the first time and being a fish out of water. Life is very different here and so are the people. I’ve tried every trick I have (with the exception of wearing a tshirt that says Im freak’n awesome and I love glitter, wanna get coffee?) and nothing seems to do it. There is really NO breaking through. It’s all good….I have accepted my fate for this season. The fun part about moving often is you learn how different this great country is. It will all make for a great book someday about the differences between the North and the South. I’m going to title it “I don’t have an accent , you do”… 🙂

    • Polly

      Hey Debbie~You are not alone out there. You and I seem to be going through some of the same things. I am also from the South, currently traveling with my husband in the very North of the US for his work and just married off our youngest! Actually, it seems like I was just thinking that when my kids were grown, I would work on me-do some things I wanted to do…Well, here I am, with plenty of time on my hands for the very first time in my life and I do not know what to do with myself. Everything I always wanted to do-you know that list you sometimes made in your head and your heart as the years rolled by? Well, I couldn’t think of one of those things until this morning when I thought how much I would really like to do a Bible study and then I remembered how much I could always relate to Kelly Minter. So, I looked up her website and found the discussion the two of you have recently had about “Reddening Away the Blues,” and tomato soup. I just wanted you to know that you are not alone. Here’s to both of us finding our “tribe” and our purpose this year. (and just maybe finding an online tribe would partially be an answer to prayer, too)!

      • Debbie

        Praying for you also! I often feel like I’m back in Junior High looking at the cool kids table and knowing I”m not going to get invited over. Our “Baby” just went off to college last fall and I am officially an empty nester . I have way too much time on my hands and hope this year , the Lord opens up the door to some new friendships. If you are in currently in the North, I am assuming you can feel my pain. I would never have guessed how uninviting and unfriendly people are here. It’s crazy how much different the people of the south are…. sigh…. oh well, I am believing that this is the year something shifts and I make some friends … I’m tired of getting coffee alone

  • Kathy Tessmer

    Thanks for the encouraging post! It’s been bleak here, not just the weather! My mom had a stroke at the beginning of December.. I am so thankful she is alive! Now I’ve taken the caregiver role and between work, and taking care of my mom I haven’t been at church for 6 weeks. I desperately miss the fellowship of my Christian friends. I might give this recipe a try and invite a few people to my moms.