When it comes to warming winter foods, nothing quite tops soup. It’s easy to make, and can be tailored to suit a variety of tastes, whether you’re craving something hearty, light, with meat, or gluten-free. It’s also readily portable, as you can take a mug with you in the car, or send your child off to skating lessons with a thermos in their bag. And, In terms of ingredients, there are no right or wrong rules when making soup. Be inspired by whatever odds and ends you have in your fridge and throw them together in a pot for a kitchen sink-inspired soup. It’s perfect for entertaining, too, as it can be made in advance and left sitting warm on the stove.
Inspired by soup’s versatility (and it's easy-to-freeze nature), why not share the love of soup with your friends this winter — and to help them stock their freezers — by hosting your own soup exchange party? With a couple of simple instructions, some planning ahead, and of course some delicious recipes, you can enjoy a social gathering with friends, then send everyone home home with a week's worth of delicious meals (photo courtesy of Caroline Wright).
About two weeks before you’d like to host your soup exchange, create a guest list of people you’d like to invite. While you can invite as many people as you wish, remember that each guest will have to make at least one container of soup per guest, plus one to sample from. Therefore, hosting 19 people might be a bit too much to ask; limit your list to about 10 people.
When creating your invitations, be inspired by the theme of the party: soup! Attach a photograph of a bowl of soup to a plain emailed invitation, or, if you’re crafty, create a formal paper invitation in the shape of a bowl of soup from scratch. Just be sure that each invitation includes the rules of the 'game.'
Rules of the Exchange
1. Each guest must bring one container (we find that quart containers work best; you might be able to get them from your local deli, too) of soup per guest, plus one additional container that will be served warm at the exchange for people to taste.
2. When RSVP’ing, each guest should indicate what kind of soup they are making. While all kinds of soup (dairy-free, vegetarian, meat-filled, etc.) are welcome, you want to avoid having two kinds of the same soup. In the event there are guests who have dietary restrictions, you can also limit the soups to a specific kind, like vegetarian, if necessary.
3. Each soup container should be clearly labeled with what kind of soup it is and serving instructions. As well, suggest to your guests that they bring along copies of their recipe clearly written on 3-by-5-inch cards so that the other guests can make it again if they like it.
4. On the night of the exchange, offering samples of the different soups that were made is a nice way to give guests a preview of what they will be bringing home. It also offers a solution to the “what-to-serve” question (though it’s not required).
5. If you’re planning on serving samples of the soup, be prepared to heat up a variety of soups, maybe in batches, based on how many pots you have or the capacity of your microwave. Or, suggest to guests that they either bring their extra quart container of soup with them hot, or a pot in which they can warm it up. Set up a table to serve each soup, and make sure you have a spoon and bowl for each guest (they can reuse their bowl for each soup they sample), or opt for paper cups, if you’re in a pinch.
6. If you’re serving soup, have some warm and crusty bread to serve alongside to round out the meal. Add a couple of bottles of wine, especially if you’re hosting your exchange in the evening, and maybe a few different kinds of cookies or brownies for dessert. If you’re not serving soup, put out some other finger foods for guest to eat, in case they are hungry, like cheese and crackers or a couple of different dips.
Wondering what kind of soup to make? Here are some of our favorites: