Food

Soup With Friends

soup with friends

Since March, I’ve attended zoom meetings, zoom bat mitzvahs, zoom birthdays, zoom Friday night drinks, but until last week…

I had never cooked dinner with my six college roommates over zoom. And can I say, it was just what the doctor ordered? We picked a simple recipe, a basic butternut squash soup, one that we thought our collective thirteen kids would enjoy, and a slightly more ambitious one (this naan or this easier flatbread) that was optional; I emailed the shopping list and recipe the day before, then at 6:00 ET (3:00 for my poor Seattle friend), we got to work, chopping and mincing, stirring, kneading, blending, gossiping, and — in the case of two tired doctors who had just gotten home — just watching and drinking. Through a group chat, the seven of us are in touch almost every day about the small things — photos of our kids, novels and Netflix recs, the best hair removal products — which, of course, taken together, are the big things, but our cooking session took that one step further. Being part of someone else’s dinner routine, complete with kids, partners, pets all traipsing around in the background…it was so comforting. I needed it. I recommend it.

Butternut Squash Soup with Apples
This is slightly adapted from an old Ina Garten recipe. If you plan to make the flatbread with it, your best bet is to make the dough first (it takes 5 minutes) which requires a 20 minute rise. During that 20 minute rise, you can start on the soup.

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
leaves from three thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 pinch cayenne (about 1/8 teaspoon)
2 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 6-7 cups, the pre-chopped will save you lots of time here)
2 small-medium apples (any kind) peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1/4 cup apple cider
Optional toppings: yogurt (shown), walnuts, chives, chili oil

In a Dutch oven or a soup pot set over medium-low heat, brown onion in olive oil. Add salt, pepper, thyme leaves, curry powder and cayenne (if the kids are OK with it) and cook about five minutes, until spices smell toasty and onions are soft.

Add the squash, apples and broth. (Broth should cover it all by about a half inch; if not add water.) Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 to 25 minutes until the squash chunks are tender. Puree with a handheld immersion blender (or cool and blend in batches in the blender) adding apple cider or more water until it reaches desired consistency. (I like it super smooth and creamy.) Serve in bowls with any combo of toppings.

P.S. Soup for a friend and 9 easy family meals we’ve loved to death.

  1. I says...

    As someone living on the other side of the world from her family, have no friends here, really don’t have any friends back home, this post made me sad (and made it very obvious just how alone I am, and that something is wrong with me?). But also at the same time very happy for those who do have the friends and families and opportunities to do these things. And the soup looks delicious! Can still make it for myself :)

    • Katrina says...

      I just moved and literally don’t know anyone here. I hear you! ❤️

  2. Everything was great, I liked it, I never thought I would go to the kitchen with my friends but I made it, thank you so much it was my happiest time. and my friends.

  3. Jill says...

    I would love to see a column that was dedicated to various ways to connect with friends and family through zoom and FaceTime. I’m dreading the isolation of winter, when cold weather and an influx of covid cases will leave us unable to social distance outside and we will be isolated from each other again. Suggestions for family games for Thanksgiving and the other holidays would be fabulous. I’d also love links and suggestions for zoom classes that I could arrange to do with friends and family as a fun way to virtually gather and connect. In fact, gift certificates to a terrific zoom class could be a terrific holiday gift!

    • Heather says...

      Yes! Seconded! All of this! This has been on my mind so much lately.

    • ANNIE says...

      YES. In the spring we got somewhat creative with zoom — grandma making up scavenger hunts for the all the grandkids, game nights, a birthday party with trivia questions about the celebrant — but we lost steam and aren’t doing zoom dates at all anymore. We usually have a huge thanksgiving with lots of friends and family, and we would like to do a TG zoom meet up but we’re having a hard time coming up with something fun to do with everyone on zoom. Would love COJ’s input on more fun zoo/facetime activities.

    • Genevieve Martin says...

      A tip if you’ve run out of steam for the big events: The other day I put zoom on while I was doing a puzzle and dropped a link in my family WhatsApp chat and said anyone wants to hang out then join me. My parents joined after a while when there were eating dinner and it was low key and funny. We had a nice convo and also some bits where I just did my puzzle for a while while they sorted out plates etc. My mum produced a delicious looking pumpkin loaf and my dad loved it and it was sweet to be there with them.

  4. Megan says...

    Laughing because my mom made this soup for us this weekend and we both hated it. My friend makes a different version that’s much better, but she doesn’t follow a recipe and she can’t really tell us how to make it!

  5. Amy P says...

    I’ve been making almost the exact same recipe for years, to rave reviews! Slightly different ratios but the same ingredients – except I’ve never thought to add apple cider vinegar. I’ll have to add some to a portion of my next batch to compare and contrast. I do use Granny Smith apples though for some acidity already. I also use a little less curry powder, although I’ve found the amount I like to use depends on the brand I have on hand.

    • Genevieve Martin says...

      The recipe is apple cider not apple cider vinegar, just a note in case you see this!!

  6. Kim says...

    Sage fried in butter is a great garnish!

  7. This soup sounds so original! I never would have thought of adding apples to an “orange” soup, as we call it here… Will definitely try it!
    And by the way, your salmon with chilli and sugar is a signature dish in our home now.

  8. Monica says...

    A few years ago a colleague jumped into a conversation to tell us that curry powder was the secret to butternut squash soup and I am so grateful she did!!!

  9. Kate says...

    My best friend and I made a quarantine podcast around this idea called Dinner Date with Sean and Kate! Every week we chose a recipe, mic’d up, and cooked it together (in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, respectively). We recorded ourselves cooking, chatting about current events, dropping things, and tasting our finished product, and we ended each episode having dessert with a “special guest” (one of our friends). It was so much fun and a great way to stay connected. Here’s the link if anyone would like to listen. :) https://sptfy.com/55Z8

    • This soup sounds so original! I never would have thought of adding apples to an “orange” soup, as we call it here… Will definitely try it!
      And by the way, your salmon with chilli and sugar is a signature dish in our home now.

    • Tina says...

      This sounds like a wonderfu, Kate! Hopefully some day. 🤞

  10. Caitlin says...

    For Father’s Day my sisters and I signed us all up for a Zoom pasta making class. It was so nice to just all hang out in the kitchen together from our four corners of the country. It felt so much more normal and intimate than just talking. Now my sisters and I have been baking together over Zoom, too!

  11. supercalifragilistic says...

    I can barely imagine having 6! old friends close enough to keep in touch daily! What a joy that must be! You are soo soo fortunate. It is heartwarming to know that is even possible.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I have to say, the daily check-in with them has not always been the case. We had always loved seeing each other, however infrequently, as the years went on, but it wasn’t until we started a group chat in anticipation of a college reunion a few years ago that our communication became regular — and really rewarding. The group chat changed everything! We no longer had to “catch up” every time we talked or got together. We are always caught up, in real time, which frees up the conversation for all the stupid — I mean all the fun stuff! I recommend highly!

    • Lucy says...

      I have a big, close group of friends from college and we’ve had a text chain for years. Some days I come back to my phone and have missed 50 messages. I always giggle reading through them and I love the running dialogue on my friends’ lives. Today was one friend’s birthday–she lives across the country from the rest of us but we were still able to barrage her with birthday love. I highly recommend this as a way to keep in touch!

  12. Sarah says...

    We did this earlier in quarantine with a few college roommates, too. Though our lives are too hectic to all align on the same recipe/ingredients, so we decided we would just do themed weeks: “something with cheese”, “something in a bowl”, “a salad-y thing”. Then chat via Zoom while we made dinner and exchanged recipes. It was so fun!

  13. hali says...

    I think I might coordinate a family cooking night like this! Maybe for thanksgiving!

    In March, my husband started face-timing people while he makes dinner. I think it’s where he gets his social interaction for the day. He gives no warning (I find this weird but he pulls it off) so he kind of rotates through a roster of people until someone picks up. He’s gotten pretty close with my parents this way, since one of them usually answers. If my parents happen to be cooking at the same, my husband ends up chatting to their ceiling fan. It’s pretty precious!

    • Sage says...

      This is so adorable and endearing :)

    • Amy says...

      I love this. I lost my dad this year and would give anything to talk to him.

  14. Tess says...

    I love this! Total coincidence, I have a zoom baking date with my two best friends this evening! We’re making Claire Saffitz’s chocolate chip cookies from her new book- something nice and easy and comforting, so we can get a lot of catching up in at the same time.

  15. Emily says...

    I’ve been loving Jenny’s contributions! Looking forward to trying this soup.

    As a note to the COJ team, I would love if there was an easy way to print recipes from the blog when they’re shared! I usually print recipes (on paper, if you can believe it!) from my phone when I want to save them for the upcoming week. I’ve often wanted to do that with COJ recipes but I haven’t found an easy way to do it yet (compared with food blogs where there’s usually a print button!).

    • Julie says...

      I thought the same thing, Sage! I am a little jealous of these big friend groups! But I guess I am thankful for the select few I do have.

    • Stephanie says...

      If you have Google Chrome, try the PrintFriendly extension! It makes printing anything online way easier. :)

  16. Sage says...

    I will never understand how other women get these big friend groups, haha! I have my sister who lives a few streets away (which is the best!!) and two close-ish friends I typically text with a few times a week, but nobody with whom I’d share things like this.

    • Ashley Schuette says...

      Same! I’m almost wondering/hoping if CoJ might try some type of virtual meet up or cooking class with Jenny now!

    • Jo says...

      Yes. I’m very lucky to have a few women who I consider close friends….but most of them are not close with each other! I’m not sure how that dynamic evolved.

    • Lauren says...

      Sage, I love that you said this bc I was thinking the same thing! I’ve always had a few close friends who are my kindred spirits, but they usually come from different parts of my life.

    • Sarah says...

      Same! Reading about something like this is so lovely, but also totally foreign to me. I am bffs with my sister, have a few close friends from different areas/times of life and that’s it! When I got married, my sis and four of these friends (“bridesmaids” though I didn’t really do that) gathered for the first time together for a weekend, and I found it . . . awkward? I have worried there’s something wrong with me, but I think some of us are just not cut out for friend group life! (I find all those shows with women foursomes actually give me anxiety.)

    • Hannah says...

      Same here Sage!

    • Catherine says...

      Me, too, and I don’t like to cook. I think that’s okay. There’s room for all kinds of people. I would love to eat this soup, though. :)

    • Britt says...

      Sage, me too!

      I have a few close friends, a bunch of not-so-close friends, and none of them are friends with each other. I tried to set up a group to get together more regularly, but it fell flat, maybe because I was the only link between everyone.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Sage – You don’t need a big group for this at all. In fact, it would probably be a lot less hectic and rewarding in its own way if you were just FaceTiming with one person. I’ve done that before, not even making the same thing, just pretending we are in the same room, and catching up as we go just like a phone call. It’s just as comforting!

    • Denise says...

      Cup of Jo, it would be fun to have a relationships advice section on how to cultivate fantastic friendships. There was an article link recently about life-long friends and why it’s hard to name the relationship and it was so good!
      So much relationship advice is targeted for spouses & significant others, and some of that applies to friendships too, but friends are really where it’s at, imo. Friendships deserve more space in our lives I think.

    • Ashley says...

      Chiming in too, never had that friend group and always made me feel like ‘is something wrong with me?’ lol. Glad to see so many other responses to your comment! I have my good friends scattered around the country and world, but none who know each other, really.

    • Ellen W says...

      Oddly enough, the pandemic has strengthened my relationship with my sorority sisters. We’ve been zooming just about every other Friday night (because we are home most of the time) and have started a group text that is quiet some days and other times there is a lot of chatter. There is about a dozen women in this group and even though some of us live localish to each other we are talking more often. I know sororities can have a bad rap (sometimes well deserved) but I’ve been friends with these women for 24 years now.

    • KJ says...

      Agree on all of this!

      Will also add, someone on Nextdoor recently asked if anyone was interested in a book club in my area. A ton of women responded! There’s definitely a need and I’m so grateful to the first woman for putting it out there. Can’t wait to get started with that group and make some new friends.

    • Kylee says...

      I’m the same – my few best friends, and sister, live very far from me, and while I have a few friends to have coffee/dinner with (in normal times) there is no one big friend group, and these local friends are not the ones I would share deep down important things with. And honestly, as an introverted, fairly antisocial person, that suits me well. There are times I know I should make more effort to make new friends and socialize but really, I’m happy with my husband and kids and my few friends. Pandemics suit me to some extent :)
      I think this is another one of those situations where society and the media think they know what’s best for us, but deep down WE know what we like best – and it’s totally okay not to have a sex and the city group!

  17. Nicole says...

    Love this idea, and really any idea that involves soup. One of my favorite things about cooler weather is making big batches of soup every Sunday for my weekday lunches (which I always eat with a big piece of sourdough toast).

    I make an almost identical soup ingredient-wise, but I roast the onion (red), squash, and apple in the oven with olive oil and curry powder. Once everything is nice and caramelized, I throw it in a pot with veg broth and some more curry powder and use an immersion blender on it. So good!

  18. Denise says...

    I really like the idea of zoom cooking w my pals but I think working on zoom for my job has zoomed me right out of any extra curricular zooming. It’s exhausting. This soup, however looks life affirming & I can’t wait to try it. Chili oil as a topping…hmmm… might be a game changer, I’m intrigued.

  19. maywyn says...

    Perfect timing! There’s squash baking in the oven as i type. This time if year I make a new squash soup recipe. Didn’t consider adding apples until the recipe here.thank you
    Krosiny bag in ad here is gorgeous. Took a look and found more colors!

  20. Megan says...

    My friends and I have been doing this on weekend mornings with baking! It has been one of the best things about 2020.

  21. AE says...

    One of my husband’s best friends from college had a big birthday. His wife- who is the best party planner I’ve ever known- through him a zoom cook contest between all the guys. They all logged in, made a recipe, and then had the recipe writer- a chef who has been on Chopped, et al- judge by appearance. The guys were super excited and of course, the birthday boy won.

  22. Tristen says...

    I’ve been doing something similar with my middle school students: Zoom baking on Friday afternoons. I email the recipe in advance and they set up their mise-en-place before class (never have they been so on top of “homework”). We’ve made honey cake, a pumpkin cheesecake roll, chocolate layer cake, apple pie, and this Friday we’re doing baked brie. The kids love it and it has turned out to be hands-down the best part of distance learning!

    • Denise says...

      What a great idea, I’m going to recommend it to my niece’s teacher! Thanks!

    • Eve says...

      I love this and I‘m sure your students will remember these cooking sessions forever!

    • H says...

      What a great idea! I did tea time with my middle schoolers- we all make a cup of tea (or cocoa or whatever) and a treat and then meet on Zoom. If it was for a class, we would discuss our class book or whatever, but if it was for fun we might just chat, play some trivia games, whatever.

    • ange says...

      What a great idea! Alongside the Great British Bake Off that would be so fun!

  23. Alexis says...

    I do something similar with my little brother. Every other Sunday we cook a new recipe and aim to be at the same stage at the same time (4pm mountain/6pm Eastern) so we can facetime and chat during the longest wait period. We compare notes then plate it for our families together but then end so nobody has to watch anyone else eating on screen

    • Hayley says...

      This is PRECIOUS.

  24. JAK says...

    My best friend and I have been doing variations of this even before covid, we live in different countries and a lot of times we will set up FaceTime while we’re both cooking a meal. It’s usually not the same dish, but it’s great because we can offer suggestions about what to add if we are riffing off of a dish. She might ask, “hmm… what else should I put in this veggie stock for more flavour” and then we “work through” perfecting the dish together. Being able to give suggestions or just spend time chatting, is such a gift for the both of us. I can’t drop off a meal at her place, but I can help her make a kickass meal for her and her husband to enjoy! Usually after we are done cooking, we will eat our meals together on FaceTime. I also have a ritual with my auntie where we send each other recipes in WhatsApp and emails that we’re making, so at least once a week or so its a way to check in with one another, to me this is such an act of love. It says, “hey! I was thinking of you and I know that you would love xyz dish!” And what’s more beautiful then food being an expression of love? Even if we can’t share in person, the time spent with one another still transcends screens.

  25. PRISCILLA VANHEEST says...

    Jenny! I did this with my best friend this past Sunday (to combat the “Sunday scaries”) and we are STILL texting about how life giving it was! Next week we’ll try this recipe! Also, are you a wine drinker? I would love to know your go-to red wines (and maybe even go-to red wines from Trader Joes, if you have any :))

  26. Sana says...

    Jenny, you always have the perfect way of capturing just what I wish I could do. Going to up my zoom game and try and get some friends on board.

  27. Cara M says...

    I love this idea. Unfortunately, between work and other meetings, I have complete Zoom fatigue/burnout…I added two Zoom funerals to my schedule over the past months and I think that did it in for me. But I’m totally going to make this soup recipe!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Maybe try Google Meet :) <3

  28. karen says...

    Great idea! I bet grandparents and grandkids would get into cookie baking together too!

  29. Janey says...

    My close friends and I have a similar lockdown zoom cookery thing where we take it in turns to “teach” the others a family favourite. Sometimes it’s a meal, sometimes baking and in the case of one friend who hates cooking, cocktails!
    Always lots of laughs despite/because of all the kids kicking off, dogs barking, partners coming and going. With the added bonus of eating different things. Almost like the old days when we could actually hang out in each other’s kitchens in real life!

  30. marianne says...

    My sister, mum, and I had a cooking challenge going over zoom. As we live in 3 different countries, it got interesting to see what inspired us: We did brioche variations, vegetarian tapas, a spreadable tip, etc. It was so much fun ! We would video ourselves doing the recipe and shared the challenges and changes we would do to said recipe!

  31. Lucy says...

    I love this!! My kids are doing a zoom cooking class with some of their friends and it has been so sweet to see them enjoying the experience for exactly these same reasons you describe. Now I want to round up some friends and try it myself!

  32. Rachael says...

    I love this, Jenny! When Covid first hit, we started a “Soup Sunday” tradition with my fiancé’s family. We rotated which household picked the soup and cooked together over Zoom. It died out in the summer time when soup wasn’t as desirable, but last week a text went out getting our soup gang back together again.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I love that, Rachael!

    • Agnès says...

      the soup gang! love that!! I’m so part of that gang!

    • Cynthia says...

      Gazpacho is good summer soup and so easy.