Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Hospitable House

(Taylor & Kent cup and saucer via Vintage Veranda.)

Continuing in the long tradition of this blog attempting to replicate the way of life of The Architect, I thought I’d fill you in on a delightful dinner party to which Mrs. E. and I hiked Saturday night.

Yes, hiked. Rather than put our lives into the hands of Richmond drivers inexperienced in driving in the snow, we hiked the mile up Monument to Corporate Creature’s and The Architect’s home. It was chilly, but we were bundled up and even Mrs. E. had to admit that the snowscape was beautiful.

Three blocks from our hosts’ house we caught sight of the torches burning to welcome us. The Architect had long ago disposed of the bamboo poles from a few tiki torches and now uses them on the front stairs to greet guests. Reminiscent of the gas lamps that still grace the front lawns of some of the houses along Monument, the tiki torches are instantly cheering and festive and very stylish. That warm glow set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Inside, after shucking our snow gear and slipping into our Belgian Shoes, we were greeted with drinks, Reggae music being played by a street musician hired for the evening (oddly enough, he also played some Lionel Ritchie on the Steinway) and … cups of steaming carrot and ginger soup, ladled from a huge copper sauce pan into china coffee cups! Talk about a warm welcome. What a pleasant surprise and unique way to serve a first course. Easy and elegant.

This from Allrecipes.com. I didn’t detect any cinnamon in the Architect’s version and I suspect that he used at least twice as much fresh ginger.


1/2 medium butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 pound carrots – peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed or to taste
1 (2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Scoop seeds out of the butternut squash half, and place cut side down onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until softened. Allow to cool, then scoop the squash flesh out of the skin using a large spoon and set aside. Discard skin.
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic, and cook, stirring until onion is translucent. Pour in the water, and add squash, carrots and ginger. Bring to a boil, and cook for at least 20 minutes, or until carrots and ginger are tender.
Puree the mixture in the blender, or using an immersion blender. Add boiling water if necessary to thin, but bear in mind this is meant to be a thick creamy soup. Return soup to the pan, and heat through. Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon.
Ladle into serving bowls, and pour a thin swirl of cream over the top as a garnish if desired.

8 thoughts on “Hospitable House

  1. Oh I love squash soup, also recently discovered a tomato with red pepper soup, just the right amount of tang, not too spicy!

  2. E,

    I adore the idea of trudging through a winter wonderland of iridescence to arrive at what you poetically describe as an inn of hospitality, resplendent with welcoming torches to light your way, hot soup to take off the chill, music to soothe the spirits and good friends to warm the soul. What could be better than that?

  3. It sounds like a wonderul time from beginning to end.
    I can understand being reluctant to take photos as guests in someone else’s home, but I would have loved to see an exterior shot with the torches.

  4. This sounds like a great evening! Walking anywhere is elegant! And a first course soup from a copper pot is wonderful comfort food, not to mention pretty! Polishing copper and silver is a bit like ironing–very hard work, but the results are dazzling! My husband and I always walk to neighborhood parties, even in the bitter cold. In the summer, we scooter (Vespa) up to our neighborhood pubs. Cars have their place, but we all spend way too much time in them. Walking with strollers and prams is the best of all . . . with walking the dog coming in second. One of the reasons Iove to visit NY is because you can walk anywhere.

  5. Chris’s version sounds truly delicious; and much more refined than the following version he had Saturday night:

    Chicken Little’s Carrot Soup:

    In a large unpolished copper pot, Saute’ 1 mamouth onion (rough chop) along with 2 pounds organic carrots (again,rough chop) using a bit of low grade olive oil or unsalted butter. Stir until the vegetables appear to be caramalized then add 4 cups hot chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon coursely gound black pepper. Process until smooth. Immediately before serving, add 1 cup fresh orange juice along with a tablespoon of orange zest.

    The soup becomes truly delicious if your guests are drunk; they’ll swear you’ve added ginger root and cream.

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