If you haven’t noticed, this Thanksgiving is not going to be a normal one. Stuffing a bunch of people into your home is simply not an option, but shoving a bunch of people into a four-walled tent isn’t any better. (What good is being “outside” if you’re inside a plastic room?)
Luckily, Andrew Zimmern has a creative idea for seeing friends in a truly outdoor setting, with a concept I have christened “stoop soup.” In our interview with him for The Upgrade, Zimmern explained how he’s adapted one of his favorite family traditions for These Times:
Going back two generations, being East Coasters, our family loved oysters. And so one of the things that would be served—it was on the buffet table—was oyster chowder. Delicious creamy potatoes and fennel and onion and carrot and celery and oysters cooked in their own liquor, maybe seasoned with a little bit of Old Bay. I think that was my mother’s father’s recipe. Over the years, I’ve used a fancier and—I think—easier version of it. And I put a soup tureen—an electric one—by the door. And when people come in the door in my house, everyone takes off their shoes and their coats…And I would put a mug of soup in their hands; something magical happens when you put a hot mug of soup in someone’s hand.
Obviously, the “people coming in the door” portion doesn’t work at the moment, but Zimmern has a clever way to take it outside:
If you have five or six family members, gather up some of those and get a thermos and pour some soup and let people walk around with a disposable cup—get some paper cups and share something hot and warm together outside, sit on your stoop, socially-distanced, and share some oyster chowder together. Do something like that that allows you to be outside, that’s nurturing, that’s in the spirit of the holiday, that’s warming. Sitting outside, even if it’s 40 degrees out in New York and you’re sipping a mug of hot soup…I mean, you’ll definitely loosen your scarf. There’s no doubt about it. You may even take off your hat, unbutton a couple of buttons on that coat. You’re going to get so warmed up. And I think that’s a really nice thing to do.
I also think it’s a really nice thing to do, and not just because I love saying “stoop soup.” (You can also shout “This is just soup for my family!” at every passerby. They may not get the joke, but that’s simply not your problem.)
Interview excerpts were lightly edited for clarity.