Did you know that January 25 is Soup Swap Day? Yes, and it is a whole day dedicated to sharing big pots of soup with friends. Isn't that a splendid idea?
I have always loved the idea of food swaps, and soup swaps in particular, but as I had never actually been to one, I decided to change that and not only go to a soup swap, but bring you all the details in our first 2015 Gathering from The Kitchn. I knew I needed some help, so I turned to my friend Tricia Keels — an avid swapper and fabulous cook. Here's the party plan we cooked up — want to hear what we planned?
The Party Plan: January Soup Swap
What's a Soup Swap?
The idea behind a soup swap is simple: Bring a few containers with one kind of soup, and exchange them with others so you leave with many kinds of soup. It’s sharing and learning at its most delicious.
The concept of a soup swap is probably as old as soup itself, but it's been popularized over the last few years by Knox Gardner and the Soup Swap website community.
Tricia, in the middle, getting swappers' soups organized.
About Tricia & Souper Heroes
Tricia Keels and I met through mutual friends in Columbus and we have a lot in common. She lives in a neighborhood near mine, and manages to pull off a mind-boggling amount of community events in between her daily tasks as a writer, podcaster, and mom.
Tricia runs an organization called Souper Heroes that hosts a monthly event called Soup and Bread. It raises money for the local food bank and gives people yet another way to eat soup. She also runs soup swaps, food swaps, and community oriented events like a backyard restaurant she and her young kids open for a night every summer as a fundraiser for the food bank. (Oh, and she has three kids and a coop of chickens in the back yard. Yeah, she's super!)
Visit Tricia Keels Online
Planning the Soup Swap
So Tricia and I put our heads together on this soup swap — and I quickly discovered that a soup swap is one of the easiest sorts of parties you can throw!
All we needed to do was invite guests and give them the scoop: make soup, and come ready to swap. Tricia was hosting it at her house, and we didn't do anything to decorate for the party except line the table with paper to keep soup splatter cleanup at a minimum. I made some snacks and small bites and we asked another friend to bake bread. I also brought labels for the soup and name tags to help people meet one another and link up soup with the face of the cook who made it.
And that was it! We all showed up ready to swap and munch and mingle.
The Party Menu: Small Bites (and Soup!)
Soup swaps are of course all about soup, but that doesn't mean you have to only eat soup. In fact, the point is to take soup home with you, so while you may be tasting lots of soups, it's nice to have other kinds of food to eat.
We hosted this party on a post-holiday morning, around 11am. We didn't serve a full meal, but we wanted to have snacks since this was happening over lunch time. I went with a loose Southern sensibility. Here's what I cooked up:
The Menu: Small Bites for a Soup Swap
In addition to this, there were plenty of soup samples out so soup swappers could try them. There was also a huge loaf of golden focaccia, cut into small pieces for sampling soup.
Warming up soup and getting ready to swap.
The Party Look
The beautiful thing about a soup swap is that, along with a limited amount of cooking, you don't really need to do anything to decorate or set the table. It's a mix-and-mingle sort of party, and the focus is on the soup! Tricia cleaned up her kitchen and dining room (thanks pal!) and that was about it.
What's Coming Up This Week
Stay tuned — lots more to come this week! Here's what's coming:
- Soup Swap 101 - All the details you need to host and execute your own soup swap!
- Our Soup Swap - How our own soup swap went.
- Recipes - Recipes coming this week for one of my favorite soups, a white bean and bacon number, plus recipes for the pimento cheese, wrapped okra, and Nutella puffs.
- Free Printables - We'll give you PDF downloads with soup swap invite postcards, name tags (they double as soup labels), table tents for labeling soup, and swap cards to help people claim their soups.
- How to Give Back to Your Community Through a Soup Swap - A soup swap can go beyond nourishing ourselves and also be a tool to raise money or awareness for good causes in our communities. On Friday Tricia will share some of the things she's learned about creating events that give back.
And as we cook up more soup swap for you — tell us: have you hosted a soup or food swap in the past? What did you learn along the way?
(Image credits: Christopher Keels Photography)