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 | By Michelle DiFranco

Something to Offer

Jesus loves the poor. Scripture doesn’t just mention that fact; it repeats it over and over in myriad ways. “When you did it to one of the least of my brethren here, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) “It is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye, than for a man to enter the kingdom of God when he is rich.” (Mark 10:25) “This poor widow has put in more than all those others who have put offerings into the treasury.” (Mark 12:43) etc. Jesus connected with and spent most of his time with the poor.

Every generation throughout history can also testify that the poor in our midst suffer. They scrape to get by. Their dignity often is compromised and their lives are much less comfortable. And so it is no surprise that our Lord would want to be with them to help them, and love them, and give to them.

But was it always a one-way street? Did Jesus do all the giving, or did he, in wonderful ways, gain from being with them? After all, they are to him, as Scripture also tells us, “the salt of the Earth,” giving flavor and value to our world.

So what do the poor, who have nothing, give to us? I believe Jesus would say they give to our world all the many wonderful things that could not be provided by those who have more.

For example, the poor, when they share, demonstrate greater generosity for they have so much less and sacrifice so much more. The poor show us true humility for they so often have nothing left to lose. Cast on their knees and begging for mercy, the poor are often forced to frequently and fervently call upon their Lord. The wealthy can forget their need for Christ while satiated by the comforts of their fortunes.

It often strikes me how many things we enjoy in our lives that are not the contributions of wealthy people in our past, but are the inherited activities, products and culture that were born of necessity where poorer groups of people had to make much of the little they had. As a person who appreciates world cuisine, I find that pattern repeated often in the culinary arts. So many of my favorite recipes find their origins as “peasant food” – dishes made great by those who had to be creative with the scant and simple ingredients available to them.

I share one such recipe with you here, and I hope you will enjoy it. But, as you prepare and partake, perhaps we might imagine our Lord enjoying simple but lovingly prepared food, made and shared by those who, with less, gave more. Maybe in the dark and lonely alleys where sophisticated comforts were scarce and life gave no joy to the people, our Lord found the people who gave joy to life.

Toasted flour soup

Originally from the humble regions of northern Italy, this warming soup is perfect for the colder months that lie ahead. With only a few ingredients, it is so simple and inexpensive to make, yet rich and full of flavor.

  • 1 thin loaf of Italian bread
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter plus more (melted) for croutons
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Begin by making large croutons. Slice the Italian loaf lengthwise down the middle and then across into thick pieces. Lightly brush melted butter over each piece of cut bread and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes or until light golden brown. Place 3-4 croutons in soup bowls and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, gently toast the flour for 6-7 minutes or until it turns pale golden brown (stirring occasionally with a whisk). Remove from heat. In a medium sauté, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Stir in finely chopped onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions are transparent. Add onion mixture to toasted flour and then slowly add chicken broth (while stirring) and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for an additional 25-30 minutes or until soup becomes slightly thickened. Ladle the soup over the croutons and top off with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Michelle DiFranco is a designer and the busy mom of two children.