Hosting Tips

Your Guide to an Easy Fall Picnic

By Camille Styles
the cutest picnic lunch!

With the temps finally cooling down a bit here in Austin, I’m embracing every possible chance to get outside and soak up the sunshine and cool breezes. And now that I’m working downtown, Adam and I have been trying to squeeze in a few lunch dates — our offices are only a few blocks from each other, so it’s way more doable to squeeze in a midday meet-up than it used to be when I worked from home. Last week, I surprised him with a picnic lunch at a park down the street. This soup-in-a-jar concept is so genius for a picnic — or a perfectly packed work lunch — since you layer all the ingredients and then just pour hot broth over it all when you’re ready to eat. In honor of National Noodle Day on October 6th, I teamed up with Simply Asia to create these jars with their delicious Soba Noodles and Ramen Soy Ginger Chicken Broth which took my soup jars to the next level. Keep scrolling for the full menu, recipe, and tips on packing up your own cozy soup picnic this fall!

*photos by kristen kilpatrick

The key to making soup pots soup-er easy (sorry) is to prep your veggies when you get home from the store. Shred the cabbage, grate some carrot, and pick-up a rotisserie chicken so all that’s really left to do it put it all together in a jar. Plus, Simply Asia noodles and flavorful ready-to-serve broths make it possible to whip up delicious creations in minutes.

For these soup jars, I wanted to do an Asian twist on chicken noodle soup. I used Simply Asia’s Japanese Style Soba Noodles which cook up really fast and add a great nutty flavor. The noodles also have 6 grams of protein per serving and a healthy dose of fiber, which makes this a substantial one-dish lunch.

For our picnic, I heated the Ramen Soy Ginger Chicken Broth  on the stove, then transferred to a thermos that would keep it warm until we were ready to eat. Since the broth is already infused with tamari, ginger and onion, it makes it super quick and easy to mix up a flavor-packed soup.

I recruited Carmen for help putting these together in our studio kitchen. We layered all the ingredients in large jars that could be easily packed up and sealed in our picnic basket. Don’t forget the chopsticks!

In addition to shredded veggies, noodles, and chicken, I love a few bold flavor-enhancers like herbs, onions, and a squeeze of lime.

Into my picnic basket went flatware, napkins, flowers, a big blanket, and sturdy acrylic drinkware. And my favorite thing about this picnic basket is the wine holder attached to the side – it’s a date, after all!

These noodle jars are infinitely customizable. Try one with an Italian spin by layering white beans, pasta, basil, and tomatoes, or get creative with all different kinds of grains like quinoa or bulgur, proteins like tuna, hard-boiled eggs or tofu, and whatever veggies happen to be in your fridge.

We biked down the street to a park with a view of downtown and found the perfect patch of grass for our picnic.

Nailing the perfect blanket toss is harder than it looks.

We settled in, unpacked our basket, and I opened the wine. Why can’t more workdays involve a midday glass of rosé?

In addition to our noodle soup jars, I picked up my favorite baguette from Easy Tiger, plus some fresh fruit tartlets from Whole Foods, and suddenly we had a gourmet picnic lunch that felt way more elaborate than it actually was.

Since our broth was still nice and steamy from the thermos, it gently cooked the raw veggies and was the perfect compliment to the slightly cooler temps. And by that, I mean 88 degrees instead of 90 (we’ve gotta take what we can get here in Austin.)

Our picnic lunch reminded me of the importance of taking a break in the middle of the day, no matter how busy things get. It’s so necessary to take time to unplug and connect with another person, and I’ve found that when I do, I go back to my desk feeling reenergized for a more inspired afternoon.

How do you guys make room for fun in the middle of the workday? Take a walk, read a book on a park bench, grab a yoga class? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments, and let’s all try to make them a habit this fall!

Be sure to check out the Simply Asia site for lots more fun ideas for using these ingredients, like this Soy Ginger Ramen Soup, Coleslaw with Asian Sesame Vinaigrette, and Beef Pho Noodle Soup.