It was February 2014, Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s day is stereotypically a day when couples head out for an overpriced pre-fix meal and compete with every other couple for the attention of wait staff. But it is tradition, so we carry on… that is, until we were invited to a neighbor’s home for dinner on Valentine’s Day.
This couple started a tradition to host a Valentine’s Day gathering for all their family and friends. Prerequisite: You must be loving, but it is not necessary to be in love. We were honored to receive an invitation… so (without hesitation) we gave up on finding that elusive reservation and headed one block north to their home for Valentine’s day festivities.
The hosts were a charming couple in a charming home. They lived in a butter yellow Tudor home the size of a postage stamp. Small in stature, it has all the amenities you could ever need. They had recently completed the expansion of the front of the house putting in a small office. The room floods with light from surrounding windows, all of them matched to the original 1929 windows, and the built in oak buffet looks like it could have been constructed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The generous sage and white kitchen is complete with a table that appears from the cabinets and a craft beer tap. It is the perfect size for a couple, and it is absolutely bursting with love.
When we arrived, we were greeted with a big hug, and personalized wine glasses affixed with heart studded wine charms with our names on them. In attendance were both singles and couples, all of whom shared a love of wine, cheese, food, old homes, and equality in love. They had set up stations around the living room that paired various wines with various cheeses. White wine and cheese to the right, red wine and cheese to the left. Dessert table in the middle. I don’t know where their furniture went for the night, but much of it was removed to make room for mingling. One piece remained, and it was the long antique pew from an old church. This was the spot where everyone rested for a spell between sips. In the kitchen, the hosts set out two soups, roasted tomato and veggie, with tasting cups to ladle as you saw fit. Next to the soup, they had sliced tender, delicious, bread from our local restaurant Crave to dip into the soups. They had also made an apple crisp topped with bleu cheese and walnuts, which we munched straight out of the oven. Everything was delicious, and truly heartwarming.
How to be Neighborly: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
That night, we sipped, we mixed and mingled, we munched and chatted, and sipped some more with new found friends. That night, I observed how love can be all accepting and all welcoming. I watched how neighbors could truly love each other, and that was far better than any pre-fix menu.
This is my tribute to that night…
Heartwarming Roasted Tomato Soup
- 3 large tomatoes, halved and seeds removed
- 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ onion, chopped
- 1 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 2 c chicken broth (or veggie broth for the vegetarian)
In a bowl, combine tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, and 2 tbsp olive oil. Coat the tomatoes, and place on a roasting pan cut side down. Roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
To make the soup, put 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, and add onions, pepper, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Sauté onions until lightly translucent. Add broth, and allow to heat up.
In a blender, combine the broth mixture and tomatoes, and blend until smooth. Makes about 3 cups.
Can make ahead and reheat. Enjoy with someone you love.