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Chicken soup (and more) for the Remote Worker

Favorite soup recipes from our distributed team to solve your lunch planning needs

Illustration from above of two hands holding a ramen bowl, which is filled with soup that has two halves of a boiled egg, bok choi, and noodles. two chopsticks are resting on the bowl. other condiments are in front of the bowl. Allie Gillebo

The majority of Vox Product is remote. In Slack, we have a #product-remote channel where we love to discuss new surveys and studies about remote working, like this recent piece from our coworkers at Recode, or this annual study on the State of Remote Working. These pieces always lead to conversations about how our team supports remote work, and what the upsides and downsides are for us.

One common occurrence among our remote cohort is how, when working remotely, it’s very easy to miss lunch. Perhaps you have a couple of back-to-back meetings that overlap with lunch time. Perhaps you are deep in flow, focused on the task at hand. Perhaps simply you get distracted and lose track of time. No matter the reason, which can vary day-to-day, the key thing here is that skipping or delaying lunch is not a healthy way to live—as humans, we require sustenance!

When we do remember to eat, we face the vexing question of “what am I going to eat for lunch today?” This can honestly be a problem for remote workers.

When you work in an office you typically have a couple of options for lunch. Either you bring it, or you go buy it on your break. Bringing lunch requires you or someone in your house to plan ahead, have food available, and prepare it before leaving for work. Buying lunch means a short walk or drive to whatever options you have nearby.

If you work from home, there is no built-in check for planning ahead, because you are probably working in the same location as your kitchen. The food planning that needs to be done before going to the office can be done on-demand at home. But it’s very easy to forget to plan, which becomes apparent when you open your fridge and realize that you have none of the ingredients to make any sort of reasonable meal.

This introduces another problem inherent to remote work: the lack of a commute or need to leave your house means you might not be dressed in clothes that are acceptable for going out in public. “What about delivery?” Well, your home might not be convenient to fast-casual places optimized for lunch delivery. Which means it’s time to put on presentable clothes and make the trek to the grocery store or a restaurant so you can find that necessary sustenance.

These are minor yet real problems that remote workers can face regularly. And this is why soup season is so glorious: it’s the delicious solution to many remote work problems. Once October starts, it’s acceptable to make large pots of delicious soup that get better every day that it sits in the fridge..

Soup season, when done well, flips the above problems on their head: you start to wonder how long you can reasonably wait until lunch, because you’re so excited about the meal you’re soon to have.

To assist any remote-working soup fans out there, I decided to ask the Vox Product team to suggest their favorite recipes—the ones that make their mouths start to water when they are writing the shopping list for ingredients. Please enjoy, and hopefully this helps you live a better remote work life.

Cream of mushroom soup

Full-stack engineer Nicole Zhu enjoys making this cream of mushroom soup recipe as a weekend project, it’s time-consuming but “so delicious and rich.” There is no downside to doubling the amount of garlic, she adds.

Vegan winter lentil soup

If you find yourself needing to make a meal but don’t have much mental energy, senior full-stack engineer Lenny Sirivong recommends this vegan winter lentil soup recipe, which is hearty and delicious even if you don’t typically eat vegan.

Chicken and rice soup

Georgia Cowley, senior design director, recommends her yia yia’s avgolemono soup recipe, but if you don’t have that, she also recommends this chicken and rice soup recipe. If you’re making homemade broth, she has a great tip: save all your produce scraps for a few weeks in a freezer bag (in the freezer) and use them to make a really flavorful broth.

Ribollita

Engineering manager Max Martin recommends making a simple ribollita, the recipe he uses is from the excellent cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat, but the linked recipe is close. He recommends saving up parmesan rinds for this soup, and prefers stale breads that trend towards whole grain. Also if kale isn’t your favorite, you can substitute other leafy brassica like collard greens.

Quick chicken soup

A soup that’s a hit with principal designer Justo Garcia’s family is this quick chicken soup recipe, which he says is easy to make and everyone (including kids) loves it. His family loves the kale, and follows the advice to keep the pasta in a separate container, which helps the soup last longer. For variations, he’s added small potatoes, the pasta they prefer instead of that in the recipe, and he uses a cheesecloth to hold chicken bones and herbs to make the broth a little more flavorful.

Vegetarian tortilla soup

Another vegetarian option comes from front-end engineer Colleen Geohagan, who suggests this vegetarian tortilla soup. She never makes her own tortilla strips instead using tortilla chips or similar. She also notes that the recipe suggests hominy is optional, but she’s found that not to be the case as it “makes things much more delicious.”

Zuppa Tuscana

Full-stack engineer Jordan Stewart suggests something like this slow-cooker zuppa Tuscana recipe, which is very flavorful and easy to make on a weekday evening due to the small ingredient list. He doesn’t treat this recipe as the canonical version—usually he explores a few similar recipes to find what seems right. He prefers making it vegetarian by swapping in plant-based sausage.if you do this, you might want to cook the sausage in the same pot as the soup then set it aside so it doesn’t get mushy.

Cuban chicken noodle

Media inventory specialist Lillian Gonzalez recommends this Cuban chicken noodle Soup, which she says is her go to soup whenever she gets a cold.

Celeriac soup

A vegan healthy comfort food comes from SVP of design Phil DelBourgo, who likes this “terribly soothing” vegan celeriac soup. If you make it, his tip is don’t try to wash the root veggies; just go ahead and peel them, and use a knife to get in the grooves.

Beef and barley soup

If you have a pressure cooker, engineering manager Matt Singerman recommends this beef and barley soup. Since most of the prep is easy and fairly safe, he enjoys having his kid help make it. He also points out that if you don’t want to make your own beef broth, store-bought works in a pinch.

Spiced chickpea stew

Senior designer Courtney Leonard recommends the soup that took off online last year, the spiced chickpea stew with coconut turmeric, which is her favorite soup to prepare for weekly meals. She says it’s so good she once ate it for breakfast.

Fast bean soup

One of front-end architect Ethan Marcotte’s favorite winter soups is this fast bean soup, a recipe written by his friend Jessica Spengler, whose site he says “is a go-to” for good recipes.

Spicy lentil and peppers soup

If you’re looking for “the perfect mix of spicy, umami, and sourness,” full-stack engineer Kevin Coletta’s suggested recipe is this spicy lentil and peppers soup from Durham restaurant Toast. He says it’s “basically the perfect meal.”

Canja de Galinha

José Júnior, principal site reliability engineer, recommends this Canja de Galinha recipe, which he says is an emotional recipe for him because it’s what Brazilian moms make whenever you’re sick as a kid.

Kik alicha

If you need a stew that “always makes too much” and feels very indulgent, senior director of product design Brandy Porter’s recommendation is kik alicha. You can change the consistency by varying the amounts of water, and if you need an immune boost, she recommends upping the ginger and turmeric.

Kale, white bean, and sausage

If you want something really hearty, engineering manager Rick Ross recommends this kale, white bean, and sausage soup. He suggests experimenting with different sausage types (chicken, spicy andouille, crumbled) to get different flavors.

44-clove garlic soup

My own personal recommendation comes from Mandy Brown, VP of Chorus, and it’s everything it says on the label: 44-clove garlic soup. This soup is best when it’s really cold and you want something that tastes like a happy memory and that also boosts your immune system. It’s not as hearty as other soups listed, so you’ll want it to be a side to other dishes.

Hopefully our team has made it easier for you to meal plan for the coming weeks. Enjoy soup season, and the delight of knowing what you’ll be eating for lunch. Good luck waiting until a reasonable time to eat!

My thanks to Gregg Bernstein for help editing this piece, and Allie Gillebo for the lead illustration art.