The cold. The snow. The gray days. Suffice to say, I’m not winter’s number one fan. But there’s one thing I really savor about the season—soup. I like it. I love it. I want some more of it. So when a friend of mine invited me to a winter soup swap, I jumped at the chance to get my soup on.
But what to bring? There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to soup swaps. Our host only asked two things:
That the recipe be freezer-friendly.
That we portion our cozy contributions into freezer-safe 1-quart containers or bags.
I wanted to make something a little out of the ordinary. And I preferred it healthy since I’ve eaten my weight in Christmas cookies over the last month. Oh, and something easy. That’s not too much to ask, is it? And that, my friends, is why I settled on making this amazeballs soup from Lydia Walshin at The Perfect Pantry. Drum roll, please…
Guys, this soup is the bomb. I used red lentils instead of brown because I had them on hand, and the color was beautiful (as they say, you eat with your eyes). I’m happy to say it got rave reviews, too. My friend Ellie even sent me a picture of her young son gobbling it up a few days later. Score!
The swap was a blast and not only did each guest walk away with a cooler full of soup, but it was a great excuse to get together with some gal pals. I will definitely be throwing one of these myself. Think you might, too? Here are a few tips…
Get the word out. Give guests at least 3 weeks notice. When it comes to soup swaps, six to eight participants is the magic number. This ensures plenty of soup variety but is still manageable. Send online invites or create a Facebook event. Asks guests to note what soup they plan to bring…you don’t want to end up with multiple chilis or chicken noodles.
Make your soup a few days ahead of time. Doing so gives flavors time to meld, plus you the time to freeze the soup. Also, you may find that you need to make more than the recipe you’re following calls for (you’d be surprised how much soup it takes to fill six or more 1-qt. freezer bags.). Wait until the last minute and you’re running to the deli to buy the premade stuff. No one likes a cheater.
For best results, make a soup with freezer-friendly ingredients. Chili, stew, bean or rice soups, and vegetables soups are all good choices. Avoid soups with milk or cream since they tend to separate after freezing. Same goes for pasta as it can get mushy upon reheating. If you want to make a soup with pasta in it, such as pasta e fagioli, hold the pasta and freeze the soup without it. You can include the dry pasta in a separate bag so it can be boiled upon reheating.
Label and date your containers. And bring along copies of the recipe so your guests are aware of the ingredients and can remake the soup if they wish.
Ask each guest to bring a separate container of soup to sample. Warm up everyone’s soup once all the guests arrive. Provide small containers (4 oz. mason jars or inexpensive, disposable Dixie cups) so each guest can sample each soup. Also, don’t forget plenty of spoons! While your guests are tasting, go around the table and ask everyone to say a little something about the soup they brought (Is it a family recipe? Why did they choose it? Do their kids love it?).
Now swap! Once the tasting is over, have each guest pick a number from a hat. Whoever gets the lowest number get the first pick, then #2 and so on. When everyone has picked their first round of soup, the picking starts over until all the soup is gone.
After a soup swap, everyone leaves happy with plenty of soul-warming soup to get them through whatever the rest of winter dishes out. And that sounds good to me.
Ready to get your soup on? Here are a few of my favorite recipes to try!