My father passed away three days before 9/11 in 2001; he’d been diagnosed with cancer just 18 months prior and even though we knew what was coming, I’m not sure you’re really ever prepared for someone you love to pass from this life into the next. My family is spread all over the country and we all took shifts in traveling to Washington during his illness; my brother from California, a sister in Arizona, me in Indiana and our youngest sister, on the same street as my parents – and we were fortunate to make it home before the towers fell and all air travel came to a halt for several days following.

Because I’d lived in Olympia for several years before moving to Indiana, I still had friends in the area who wanted to help – who wanted to feed us while we worked on gathering photographs and family memories to share at both a funeral and a memorial service. My dear friend Julie, brought a version of this soup over to my parents’ home in a large pot; a loaf of bread was set on the counter and a tossed salad was placed in the refrigerator – that pot of soup nourished all of us for those first few terrible days.

I’ve revised the soup many times over the last 13 years; this gluten-free version comes together quickly by using Sabra Salsa in lieu of chopping onions and peppers, but it’s still one of our favorites. And instead of making meatballs from scratch, I substitute Andouille sausage – hot soup is ready in about 30-minutes.


And when I pull out the recipe and begin assembling this soup, I’m transported back to that day Julie showed up on our doorstep with this pot of soup – bittersweet but filled with good memories of love and care for our family.

This past July, Sabra invited us to visit the tomato fields in California to see how their tomatoes are grown; we also had the chance to sit down with their team and learn about the process of how Sabra makes their salsas – hand-picked tomatoes, freshly chopped onions and peppers and then packaged within 36-hours.


If you watch the short video clip above, you might, just might catch The Professor singing . . .

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and we are being compensated by Sabra for sharing this information with our readers; however, as always, all opinions are my own.


  1. Pingback: Salsa Cornbread - not just baked

  2. My family would love this delicious soup!

  3. This soup is definitely a big bowl full of comfort!! I can imagine having it to nourish you helped you get through that hard time.

  4. Hugging you. I love how this has been a memory soup for so many years, in all of it’s comforting glory. It is very beautiful.
    I also love that video, and that we got to spend time together.

  5. This looks so comforting and hearty. I have a similar story with a risotto recipe. It’s funny how food can be so nostalgic and comforting in trying times like that.

  6. I think people bring food because it’s an immediate way to start healing and connecting with life, even in sadness. I know every time you make this soup, you feel close to your dad. <3

    And on a more childish note, that man said reefer truck. Heh. =)

  7. Thank you for sharing your very touching memories of the origins of this soup. Both the soup and the stories are so special.

    I, also, love the video…singing and all! Kudos!

  8. I love your videos, you two… love them. It was fun seeing all of the bloggers in the video!

    And thanks for sharing this recipe as well, friend. Hugs to you!

  9. Losing a loved one is so hard, even 13 years later! What a gorgeous soup, and I love the salsa in there.

    • thank you Erin – we’ve adjusted and continue to adjust to the loss but we’re in a good place now; this soup is one of our favorites – and would be perfect for a tailgating party!

  10. Oh I just love this, looks perfect now that the weather should be cooling off, it’s soup time. YIPPEE. I love soup and soup with meatballs is the BEST!

  11. What a wonderful dish, and I’m sure it was a comfort to your family when your father passed. What a great idea to use the Sabra salsa in place of chopping tomatoes and onions!

    • so fast and easy Dara – having a few containers of salsa stashed in the fridge is great for chips and dips – but it also makes a fabulous soup!

  12. I do the same when I make chili – use a can or two of salsa! The story is very touching and the soup looks absolutely delicious!

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