I recently started reading Rachel Held Evans’ book Searching for Sunday,* a story about her difficult relationship with the church and what eventually brought her back to it. She frames the book around seven sacraments (baptism, confession, communion, and so on…). But what struck me was this passage:
“These are the seven sacraments named by Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, but one need not consider them the church’s only sacraments. I could easily write about the sacrament of pilgrimage, the sacrament of foot washing, the sacrament of the Word, the sacrament of making chicken casseroles, or any number of outward signs of inward grace.”
The sacrament of making chicken casseroles.
I was so struck by that line because earlier in the same day, I took a quart of soup with all the fixin’s to a friend who’s been sick with walking pneumonia. Not exactly chicken casserole, but the same sentiment. It’s the sacrament of caring for other people. And it’s one that’s easy to dismiss.
For me, making soup from scratch and delivering it is easy. For some, that might be a nightmare. But we all have strengths when it comes to comforting others. As the recipient of kind gestures from friends and strangers alike during my mother-in-law’s battle with cancer and subsequent death, I can tell you this: it makes a difference. Something about soup seems to exemplify the way personal connections can nourish the soul. But even if making soup isn’t your gift, don’t underestimate the value of reaching out to a friend in need.
However, if making soup is up your alley, I’m excited to share this recipe! When I told my friend I wanted to bring her food, she specifically requested spicy chicken tortilla soup. Truth be told, this was not something in my typical rotation. So I did what I usually do: I googled it. I was confronted with the typical (broad!) spectrum of recipes. I realized that most of the recipes were full of summer harvests: sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes, corn, and onions. I set out to make it as “from scratch” as possible, which meant roasting my own tomatoes–I bought discounted “scratch & dent” ones at the market–and toasting my own tortilla strips. Thanks to globalization, you can make this soup year round, and there are many shortcut substitutes you could take, like canned or frozen veggies. But if you have the privilege of access to fresh, in season vegetables, I think you’ll taste the difference.