Is Cheeseburger Soup Enough?



I love simple food. I could live off warm toast smothered with creamy butter. Tangy crisp green apples. Field cucumbers sprinkled with salt. Ice cold milk generously poured over crunchy cereal flakes at 11 pm.

And cheeseburger soup.

Cheeseburger soup is a liquid hug. It’s ground beef and chopped celery, shredded carrots and melt-in-your-mouth potatoes, all swirling in savory cheesy goodness. Paired with fluffy biscuits (those ones in the tube), and I’m as satisfied as I imagine Martha Stewart is after her Tuscan kale with orecchiette.

But cheeseburger soup is why I don’t have people over for dinner.

You see, I’m supposed to prepare something containing a dozen syllables and multiple courses for company. A dish that includes fennel or persimmons or Swiss chard. Dumping ingredients unceremoniously into a pot just doesn’t cut it.

Adding further shame to my hospitality game is that this is the area us church ladies are expected to thrive in. Our front doors thrown open wide to the masses, steaming casseroles at the ready, floors as squeaky clean as our brilliant white smiles.

Martha would be an amazing church lady. I can just imagine her reaction to receiving surprise dinner guests:

“Company? How divine! I’ve been meaning to try out my roasted acorn squash pasta. I’ll simply change out of my Prada into my Chanel, invite 50 more guests, and see that InStyle pops in to photograph it for their next issue! And I’ll still have plenty of time to whip up my famous white chocolate ganache.”

And then there’s my welcoming reaction:

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I was planning to polish off the kids’ nugget leftovers for dinner. There’s nothing in the fridge. I have to sneak out to the grocery store and buy something appropriate. What do people eat? I have no idea what people eat. When was the last time I scrubbed the toilet? It’s a bad sign that I can’t remember. Shoot, have I not been wearing a bra this whole time?”

Commence total meltdown.

If I had beef tenderloin simmering away, I’d let the fluorescent fish crackers ground into the rug slide for a night. I might not feel as self-conscious about my postpartum tummy if it were concealed by a fragrant dish of eggplant parmesan. When homemade buttermilk biscuits are being pulled out of the oven, all plump and golden, who is going to care if there’s a ring around the bathtub? But, last time I checked, there was no beef tenderloin simmering. Just spaghetti.

So I stay scared.

I keep my guard up.

And the front door stays closed.

That’s not what I want. I want to be open and easy and free of expectations. I want cheeseburger soup to be enough. Because I know it’s not really about the soup.

It’s about people I can’t wait to bear-hug gathered together.

Conversations that leap unabashedly from New Girl to potty training to theology to–when it’s far too late–the hard and the messy and the blissed-out moments of life.

It’s about second helpings and full warm bellies.

Sleepy children and toys joyfully strewn from one end of the room to the other.

Tears streaming down our faces from a million inside jokes.

A friend meeting my eyes across the table to say, “You’re not in this alone.”

My goal this year is not to perfect Tuscan kale with orecchiette. It’s not to scrub every orifice of my home daily, do more side planks, or finally get those darn baseboards up.

My goal is to take a deep breath and invite someone in. Ladle a few more heaping bowls of cheeseburger soup. Pop open an extra tube of biscuits.

And swing the front door wide.


Image credit: Elsie Hui