“Friendship is a sheltering tree …” (Samuel Coleridge)

My friend Myrna did something really sweet for me last week. She called to see if she could bring lunch to me at my house. How could I pass that up? Since I work from home, I eat all of my lunches here at our house.

I was really looking forward to our time. Sharing a bowl of soup, a glass of water, and a fun dessert (little baby tarts with fruit and chocolate, from Fred Meyer).

Since Myrna was the cook, she was generous enough to share with me her Kitchen Sink Soup. I’ve made similar soups over the years, but to tell you the truth – I always love someone else’s cooking. Are you the same way?

For those of you who aren’t very good about eye-balling, or throwing in the ingredients that you have available in your fridge, I thought I’d share how Myrna does it:

This is sort of a “kitchen sink” soup, in that I throw in just about anything, and there are no real measurements. It’s all by eye. Soon the weather will be cool and a pot of soup simmering is just the thing to brighten the house!!Start with a package of bulk Italian sausage, brown in skillet, drain off fat, then whirl in food processor (optional, we like a fine crumb, not big chunks of sausage.) Put meat in a pot and fill with stock, homemade or canned —I usually use beef, but it’s a forgiving recipe.

Then add chopped veggies to suit your family. I always crowd in veggies and have to add water, but it always works. I use tomatoes (fresh or canned), onion, garlic, zucchini or other summer squash, Italian green beans, kidney beans, carrots. Add in herbs (maybe basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary—basil is my mainstay). Simmer to cook vegetables, taste and add salt, pepper, Tabasco as needed.

When they are getting tender, add a box of cheese filled tortellini, and simmer until pasta is tender to your taste. At the last minute stir in a couple of hands full of baby or chopped spinach leaves (on occasion I’ve substituted shredded cabbage). Serve with fresh parmesan or Romano grated over the bowl.

Flavors mellow as the soup sits in the fridge a day or two, but the tortellini deteriorate and are not as pretty, but it still tastes delicious.

It was a great lunch hour. As we shared life, both as tired Moms, I told Myrna that I’m trying to not beg God for more time in a day any more. A while back, my friend Kay told me – Sandy, God has given us the perfect amount of time each day. It’s just up to us to organize and prioritize how to use it! That struck a cord in me, and made me more accountable.

Even with a busy schedule and so much going on in my life – I’m trying to be as disciplined as possible and plan ahead. And if that means lunch or coffee with a friend – because my friendships are important to me – then I will make time for that.

When you have the gift of good friends in your life – just like the quote above – the branches of friendship reach over into the lives of others providing relief, rest, encouragement, shelter and shade.

I’m glad Myrna thought of me last week, because it was just what I needed.

How about you – have you thought of taking lunch to a friend?

(My neighbor brought me these beautiful ripe figs from her fig tree yesterday. Do you have a favorite recipe for figs? Top photo: Fall mums on our front porch. Middle photo: Myrna’s yummy soup!)

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