Relaxed Hospitality: My New Book Club (with Recipe)
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I started this new year with a new book club, and I couldn’t be happier about the fact that I get to invite a group of women into my home each month and talk about books and watch friendships form and deepen. As I’m expanding my niche on this blog to include hospitality and some other topics in addition to the Scandinavian food I’ve been writing about for a decade, I thought I’d share a little about this new book club, in case it inspires you to start your own. (At a minimum, I’ll be sharing the recipe for the cozy soup I served that night.)
I’ve created a couple of book clubs over the years, and one of my favorite things about them is the ability to gather a group of amazing women who all love to read, and then to watch friendships form and blossom.
While my past books clubs have begun with a tight theme (classic literature, then food memoirs and narratives), I’m keeping this one more open and allowing it to unfold as we discover together what we like to read. For the framework, we’re using the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge as a guide; there are 10 categories, such as “a book published the decade you were born,” “a book by a local author,” and “a book in translation.” Each month we’ll read a book that we choose based on one of the categories, modifying as needed. One our first meeting a couple of weeks ago, we decided on The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow for our February pick. (I’m almost done reading the book but will wait until our February book club is over to share my thoughts.)
A defining element of my book clubs is that we have a light structure. We collaborate in choosing books. And while we definitely discuss each book for as long as needed, I don’t demand that we stay on topic when conversation strays in a relational, enjoyable way.
My previous book club was focused on food books, so we always had a potluck based on the book we were reading. I’m keeping this one more simple, however, and am simply making a point to always have something plant-based and gluten-free to eat, such as a cozy stew on a chilly winter evening or a hearty fresh salad as we head into spring. (Two of my defining elements of hospitality are 1. Keep potential dietary restrictions and preferences in mind, and 2. All details should work to serve the people present, not to complicate things or get in the way of relationship. I’m also teaching my children the art of hospitality, and they did a lovely job picking out the flowers that decorated the house that evening and welcoming my guests.)
This time it was a simple soup made creamy with potatoes and studded with green beans, kale, and herbs. Fresh yet hearty, cozy and comforting. I’m sharing the recipe below. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
(While I’m writing, I’d like to add that I recently relaunched my email newsletter. I’ll be checking in regularly–generally on Fridays–and will be sharing recipes, updates from the blog, and other news. Plus you’ll be the first to hear about a VERY SPECIAL project I’m working on, which you won’t want to miss. Sign up here.)
Potato, Kale, and Green Bean Soup (Plant-Based, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
A note about formating: Some of you have requested that I make recipes print-friendly. That feature will be coming soon. I am a one-woman team over here, creating all the stories, recipes, and photographs as well as maintaining this site; thank you for your patience.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
48 ounces vegetable broth or water (will need additional salt if using water)
12 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed and cut into thin ribbons
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 bunch green onions, white and light green portions only, sliced
In a large pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it’s translucent, then add the garlic and stir for another 30 seconds or so. Tip in the potatoes and pour in the vegetable broth. Simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about 25 minutes. Then puree the potatoes in a blender, working in batches. Return the soup to the pot and add the green beans and kale, simmering another 5 minutes or so, until tender. Pour in the almond milk and add the salt, adjusting to taste. Garnish with green onions.
Thank you for the yummy soup recipe! Can’t wait to hear book ideas.
For mysteries, Louise Penny’s books are the best! Either Glass Houses or Kingdom of the Blind are two of my favorites!
If planning to read the entire series, begin with the first, Still Life, and read them in order!