entertaining in the age of social distancing

the virtual gathering

Categories: Soups, Dinner for Two, Supper, Well Equipped, Fête Fact, Posted on March 28, 2020 by Sandy Bergsten

It’s a little surreal writing an entertaining blog when we’re being asked to “shelter in”. Three weeks ago I felt like I needed to make food I could bunker in with. I busied myself with filling my freezer and frig. But then as life’s milestones continued… my firstborn’s 30th birthday, my baby’s engagement, and the pending arrival of our third grandson, I started to feel isolated. And I yearned for ways to connect.

Thank goodness for Facetime and Zoom. My wonderful son-in-law even discovered a way we could all play an online version Settlers of Catan. While virtual happy hours seem to be popping up everywhere, I still felt a loss. I realized that what I was missing more than anything was filling my table with those I love. Online connection is great, but it’s not the same as planning and preparing for life’s small and large celebrations.

When this clarity first came I sat down to write how we could entertain in this digitally separated age. But as I wrote life continued to unfold, what became clear was that we’re not all on the same page. Each of us is constantly fluctuating on this crazy continuum in the privacy of our own homes. So what started out as a fun and flip take on entertaining, has now taken on deeper resonance and empathy to where each of us might be. 

That said, I’d still like to invite those I care about to dinner. But instead of a loud and distracting party, I’m opting to start with something simpler. 

Is there anything that feeds the soul more than homemade soup? Perhaps sharing a bowl with those you hold dear. My invitation to you is for you to reach out to another, or to a small group and ask them to supper. On the menu- soup, made out of each of your pantries and frigs. Pick your guests, select a date, each decide what you want to make, the day of prepare your soup, and then at the appointed hour join in on a video call and sup together. Post-meal you can share your recipes with one another.

Personally, I’m going to make potato soup. I have a few spuds that look like they are about to sprout and some bacon in my freezer. I also have an onion, a few stalks of celery, a couple carrots, and a little Italian parsley that’s on its last leg.

You might not know this- but a myriad of soups can be made from one basic recipe. The variation is in the lead vegetable. First you chop up some onion, celery and carrots (this known as mirepoix and is basically two parts onion to one part each celery and carrots). 

Sauté in some butter, oil, or fat. For my soup I’m going to use bacon drippings from my diced bacon.

Remove the bacon from the pot and reserve on a paper towel.

Pour off most of the grease, but do not clean the pot. 

Add the diced onion, carrots, and celery and sauté for two to three minutes.

Then add your featured vegetable. Mine is diced potato.

Sauté for an additional five minutes with a big pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper.

Then add chicken broth to cover and simmer for ten minutes or until the potaotes are almost tender.

I love Better Than Bouillon chicken base. It lasts for months in the refrigerator.

Just add one teaspoon to a cup of warm water for each cup of desired broth.

Meanwhile whisk together one tablespoon flour in a cup of milk.

Stir into the soup and simmer another five minutes

Here’s the secret weapon- a hand blender. If you don’t have a hand blender treat yourself to a corona-gift and order one online. This is one of my kitchen’s most used gadgets.

Carefully puree the soup until smooth.

Then, if desired (and available) stir in a little heavy cream and some minced fresh parsley.

Gently warm over low heat.

Ladle up and garnish with crisp bacon bits and a little minced parsley.

Connecting over this meal is sure to nourish everyone’s heart and soul.



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