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Stirring the Pot to Fix Social Ills

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At long last, there’s a national best-selling book that offers practical and proven advice on many of the social ills that plague our nation.

This book explains with measured solutions how to curb childhood obesity and enhance children’s nutrition, improve communication between married couples and among parents and their kids, instill sound values in the next generation, conduct civil political discourse, engage in community involvement and service, improve time-management skills, avoid the pitfalls of media saturation and much more.

The author isn’t a physician or a policy expert or a social scientist; she’s not a preacher or a teacher — she’s not even certified in her field. Nonetheless, if every American family purchased this book and followed the simple recipes for living contained in it, our communities and our country would be profoundly better off.

The book? “Mr. Sunday’s Soups,” a collection of delicious soup recipes complied by Lorraine Wallace, wife of “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. (I have read all 78 recipes and cooked two so far. The use of the word “delicious” is a documented fact.)

That’s right. The answer to the question, “How can America strengthen its families, improve the health of its citizens and thus its communities, encourage its youth, and pass on the values and virtues that are crucial to the character of our nation?” can be found in — a cookbook.

“Mr. Sunday” is Chris Wallace‘s nickname among his co-workers at the Fox News Channel. As the couple has explained, their family tradition since Mr. Wallace began his stint at Fox is to sit together for a soup lunch when he returns home from work on Sundays. It started when the couple’s then-teenage son, Remick, still lived at home and spent Sunday afternoons playing baseball. Lunch was the only window of the day when the family could eat together.

Eating together is the key. “I think this is the tradition that people are yearning for,” Mrs. Wallace told me. “With all the challenges facing modern American families, gathering around the table is still an important way that we can teach our children values and help them learn to cope with things that every child faces when they grow up.

“The family table is where we celebrate successes and nurture each other through our failures,” she says. At the Wallace household, meeting at the family table often included soup.

Lorraine and Chris Wallace met the way many couples do — through mutual friends at a party. Both divorced single parents, she was mother to two children; he was the father of four, including young twins. They dated, fell in love and got married, blending together what Mr. Wallace calls “our own version of the Brady Bunch.”

“There were years when I would be driving kids from one thing to another from 3 in the afternoon until well into the evening,” Mrs. Wallace recalled. “On those nights, it was always wonderful to come home to a pot of soup. It was quick, affordable, delicious, and it was an easy way to get everyone to sit together for a meal.”

Her soup suppers accomplished what other quick meals could not: Getting the family to sit down. “It’s hard to eat soup on the run,” she explained.

Looking at the family photos nestled between soup recipes in her book, it’s clear this family blended together well, like pumpkin-pear soup or “buffalo” chili.

Mrs. Wallace‘s recipes for butternut squash puree (served with blue-cheese popovers), pasta-and-chickpea soup, and old-fashioned tomato soup with maple-candied bacon would beckon any family to the table, to be sure. (Mine is looking forward to hot and sour soup that doesn’t come in a takeout container.)

But this cookbook is more than just a catalog of hearty and healthy soup recipes. It’s also a call to action — a game plan to improve our families by remembering that we must feed not only our bodies, but also the relationships that comprise the most vital building blocks in our national foundation: Our families.

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