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 | By Michelle DiFranco

Soup for the Soul

Let’s face it. We have all experienced times when we’ve been mid-burger at the fast-food drive-thru and suddenly remember that it’s both Friday and Lent. We think, “Oops!” and either toss it out the window or continue eating it in guilt and promise God it will never happen again.

The Lenten customs of fasting, prayer and almsgiving are a challenge. The fasting part, especially, since we live in a society where self-discipline is lacking and we’re constantly being bombarded with distractions. I gotta tell you – I was pretty distracted the Friday I bit into that cheeseburger at the drive-thru.

But what if we changed our perspective a little? What if we substituted the word “simplicity” for “fasting?” Fasting is about giving something up, but it boils down to living with less and giving more. Fasting is merely accepting what we need rather than what we want and thus living more simply. It is ironic that “simplicity” should be difficult. But in a culture that tells us we can have it all, living simply is quite hard. Here is something that can help.

I’ve always thought that soup is a good thing to have around during Lent. Soup itself is a very simple meal and a true time-saver for those of us who – well –  just don’t have the extra time. The fact that it is simple can also serve as a reminder of what the church calls us to do: to take a look at our lives to see how we can live with less and give more to God. It forces us to think of those who don’t have a lot to eat and, in turn, creates an inner hunger for a closeness to God.

My favorite is the standard chicken noodle soup. Problem is, we can’t have it on Fridays during Lent. So, why not chicken noodle soup sans the chicken? Here is a recipe that puts a unique spin on the standard noodle soup. It is very quickly made, which means you won’t have to resort to the fast-food drive thru to save time (along with the possibility of screwing up your Lenten promises).

Whether you give some to a Catholic friend or stock up your own pantry for the Lenten season, this simple soup mix can help us stay on the task of being disciplined to please God.

This article was originally published April 2006.

Bowtie Soup Mix


  • 3 cups of bowtie pasta (farfalle)
  • 3 1⁄2 tablespoons instant vegetable bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons of dried minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1-lb. clear cellophane bag (can be purchased inexpensively online or at a candy-making supply shop)



In a clear cellophane bag, layer the bowtie pasta with the dried herbs and bouillon in between. To give as a gift, tie bag with raffia or ribbon to add a decorative touch. On your package of dried soup mix, add these simple directions:

Bowtie Soup

In a large pot, bring 10 cups of water to a rapid boil. Add contents of bag, 1⁄2 cup chopped carrots and 1⁄2 cup chopped celery. Reduce heat and boil, stirring occasionally until vegetables and pasta are tender (approximately 20 minutes). Top with croutons or parmesan cheese for extra flavor.