During this year’s fall retreat, LVC Volunteers from the Dorothy Day House in Milwaukee shared a recipe for their “stone soup”—a chili recipe that represents the dynamics of their intentional community. One of the housemates, Martha Sudermann, shares her reflections on intentional community along with her house’s recipe. Enjoy!
Pictured: Martha Sudermann, Urban Ecology Center, Milwaukee, 2015-16
How has your perception of life in intentional community changed since you began your year with LVC?
“I tried not to have too many lofty expectations for life in community… there are so many variables at play when living with six other people.
I am continually reminded of the importance of open communication and learning to accept that life in community can and should be challenging. I am reminded that my assumptions and perspectives are not the only ways to see the world. This can be a challenge but also a great opportunity for growth.”
How does the chili recipe relate to how you all at the Dorothy Day House live and serve together?
“Food plays a central role in our community. Many of our meals involve sautéing onions, and almost as soon as the onions hit the warm olive oil, the smell draws people into the kitchen. For this reason, we created a recipe as part of our house covenant where each of the ingredients represents something important to our community. Onions represent community, while a spice represents each of the house members since each one is needed to make a dynamic and interesting chili. We often use the crock-pot to ease dinner preparations, and the chili is best after a long, slow day of cooking. In the same way, it takes time and effort for our community to begin to meld and for our relationships with one another to become more complex.”
Dorothy Day Stone Soup: A chili recipe for 7 servings of social justice and community
Ingredients: black beans for sustainability, vegetable broth for spirituality, tomatoes for vulnerability, onions for community, corn for hilarity, bell peppers for music, sugar for house member Amy Sowers, chili powder for house member Ankita Sarawagi, salt for house member Karl Anliker, cumin for house member Julia Roche, garlic for house member Alex Macdonald, black pepper for house member Amelia Gamboa, and mustard seed for house member Martha Sudermann.
Directions: Combine all ingredients in crock-pot, allow sufficient time for flavors to develop. Or, use a pot on the stove, sautéing onions first, then adding in tomatoes, broth, and cooked or canned beans. Serve with rice for hearty conversation and cheese for some Milwaukee magic.
This story originally written for the November 2015 Leader Letter.