I almost experienced the most embarrassing moment of my culinary life last weekend. I’d gotten together with my dear friend Sonya, a connoisseur of crazy scarves and — lucky for me — cheeseburgers, to plan a cookout extravaganza. The weather has been so nice in Charlotte lately, and we wanted to celebrate.

We piled hamburgers, hot dogs, and cheddarwursts on the grill as our friends started to arrive. That’s when we realized the problem.

One of the gals we invited is a passionate vegetarian, a fact that had somehow completely slipped my mind. As soon as I saw her walking into the backyard with a pitcher of iced tea to share, I remembered her dietary restrictions like being hit with a freight train.

You’re probably thinking this was not a big deal. She can just eat side dishes, right? She can have dessert, right? WRONG. We didn’t have a single vegetarian option. The potato salad had sausage in it. The macaroni and cheese was made with chicken broth. The cupcakes were flippin’ maple bacon cupcakes! DRAT.

I panicked. At first I piled some lettuce, tomatoes, and onions on a plate to make a salad of sorts. That seemed insulting, though, and I knew I had to whip her up a more impressive vegetarian entrée. I scurried into the kitchen as Sonya sipped some lemonade and chatted to keep everyone occupied.

That’s when this masterpiece occurred to me. It’s the perfect vegetarian option at a cookout, because it tastes like a burger-free burger. It’s Cream of Ketchup and Mustard Soup! The ketchup is bright but undercut by the tang of the sultry mustard. Just a smidge of pepper for bite, and this soup was a carnival of creamy condiment deliciousness.

Our vegetarian friend raved with every sip, and asked for the recipe before she left. What a sweet success! I hope you’ll try it for yourself and enjoy.

Cream of Ketchup and Mustard Soup*

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yields: 2 servings

1 cup ketchup
1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream for serving (optional)


Mix ingredients together over medium-high heat. Simmer for 10 minutes before separating soup into two soup bowls, topping with sour cream, and serving.

*April Fool’s! I did not hold a cookout, the weather has been cold and rainy in Charlotte, I do not own a grill, I did not make this soup, I definitely did not ingest this soup, and I don’t even know anyone named Sonya (unfortunately — what a fun name).

This soup is probably gross, so for Heaven’s sake, please don’t serve it to your vegetarian friends as a meat alternative at a cookout. Unless you don’t want to have any more vegetarian friends, that is.

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