Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch

One of the perks of being a mom who doesn't go to an office every day is being able to have a party during the week in the middle of the day. Sometimes when the kids are at school and the husband is at work, we just wanna have fun!

I hosted a lunch-time party this week for a new friend and neighbor that recently moved from Connecticut. The theme of the party was Stone Soup. You may remember reading this fable or the classic children's picture book Stone Soup.

I wanted my new friend to get acquainted with a bunch of moms from the school our children attend and from the neighborhood. I sent out an evite to about 25 friends and asked everyone to bring a handful of a vegetable, bean or pasta to go into the soup. The new neighbor was to bring the stone. And just as I thought she would, she brought a stone from Connecticut. That stone made some of the best vegetable soup I've ever tasted. Really! It was a fun, easy, casual party where everyone contributed but still had lots of time to chat and make new friends.

Here's what I did to put together Stone Soup for 20 people.

A bunch of friends who each bring a handful of a fresh vegetable
A stone (scrubbed clean, about the size of an egg)
A very large stock pot
5 boxes of vegetable stock from Trader Joe's
2 onions, 1 shallot, 3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 small can tomato paste
Sea salt or kosher salt
Fresh rosemary, chopped
Crusty sourdough bread and good butter (I used Irish butter)
Bowls and spoons from a party rental place (if you don't have 20 bowls and/or you don't want to wash dishes)
Shredded parmesan, soup crackers, and sour cream for topping the soup
Wine (optional)
Hot mulled cider simmering on the stove
Coffee (rent the cups for hot drinks too)
Assorted cookies from a local bakery

About 20 minutes before the party started, I sautéed the onion, shallot and garlic in a little olive oil. I then added the vegetable broth, the stone, and the tomato paste and let it come to a simmer. As guests arrived, they added their item to the soup. Some things that cook very quickly, like snap peas and green beans, we added a little later. The soup simmered until we were ready to eat, about 45 minutes. I then added the fresh rosemary and salt to taste. Everyone served themselves from the stove, added toppings, and sat down to eat!

It's a little nerve-racking to leave the soup ingredients up to chance, but each person adds something to the pot and the end result is much more than the sum of the parts. Bonus: I served the leftover soup to my family for dinner that night and they all loved it. The boys wanted to know who brought each vegetable.

I must admit I did not come up with this idea all on my own. I am an assistant teacher at a preschool where we make Stone Soup in our class every year. Each child brings a vegetable to add, and the soup always tastes delicious. When we made it this year, I was inspired to see if I could turn it into a party. And just like the children learn in preschool, sometimes its really interesting to see what we can do when we all contribute something small.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that you can even throw this party if you have a child home sick from school. My oldest wasn't feeling well, but he was perfectly content to hang out in his room and nap and play Club Penguin for the afternoon.


Anonymous said...

How fun! You should try a Strega Nona party (children's book Strega Nona) -You get to sing Boil, Boil Pasta Pot make this pasta good and HOT! And eat pasta. Its a big hit with the first graders at our school.

Jeanne said...

Oh, I love that you are celebrating and remembering some of our very treasured traditions from nursery school! I've done an earth egg hunt and made quilts with my Brownies, so sweet:-)

kate said...

I arrived here via Chigiy's blog - your Stone Soup party sounds as if it was fun. What a great way to make a newcomer mum get acquainted with other mums.

Anonymous said...

Hi Amber,
It looks as though the only way I can leave a comment is anonymously.
I tagged you on my blog check out 8 things you don't know about me.