Spiced-Up Menu for a Weekend Soup Party

It's the very end of Soup Month, and we've really enjoyed simmering and stewing over the last four weeks. Did you make soup this month? How about going out with a bang and a soup party this weekend? Here's a menu for a warm and spicy soup party -- soup, bread, salad, and even wines to match!
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Here are two soups suitable for a party, plus a few good sides. And given the green color of one of the soups, this could also be a good St. Patrick's Day idea! This menu is very warming; there's a little kick of spiciness throughout, from the toasty cumin in the chili to the shallots in the salad to the spices in the cookies. But it's light and refreshing too: there's sweetness in the kale soup, and a lemon zing in the slaw.

Spicy Soup Party Menu

Chili Con Carne - A robust chili for company, with meaty chunks of chuck roast and lots and lots of flavor. This soup, like the following, can be made the night before your party. Reheat to a simmer just before your guests come.

Kale and Apple Soup - A vegetarian-friendly soup that can even be made vegan. But if you are all meat-eaters, do leave in the pancetta and crème fraîche. It's a sexy little soup, and a good accompaniment to the classic chili.

Cheddar and Chiles Bread - An easy no-knead bread that works just perfectly with both the soups above.

Fresh Fennel and Lemon Slaw - Fresh, crunchy, and bright - a good balance to the rich, hot soups.

Mini Molasses Cookies with Lemon Filling - Soup is very filling, so dessert should be light and refreshing. These mini molasses cookies are small, for a lighter treat, but they still pack a lot of flavor with spicy ginger and cinnamon. The lemon curd brightens them, though, for a refreshing last bite. Use storebought lemon curd if you want to make these more quick. (They're also good made ahead and left in the fridge to soften.)

If you want something even quicker and easier for dessert, try the easiest cake ever.

Wine and Soup: Easy Pairing Tips - Here's a good list of wines to pair with these soups. Chili isn't specifically on the list, but try the red wine recommended for the tomato soup.

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Soup Party Tips

• Set up soups in the kitchen or along a bar so that guests can serve themselves. Reserve the dining room table (or the coffee table!) for sitting and eating. Soup is not a balancing act.

• Plate the salads ahead of time and put a dish of salad plus a brightly-colored napkin at each placesetting. Cut the bread and put it out in a basket or pretty bowl, folding it in a cloth napkin to keep it warm.

• Put out small bowls of soup toppings around the table: Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese and onions for the chili, sunflower seeds, extra yogurt for the kale soup, and small toasty croutons.

• If you're short on bowls, use teacups or mugs instead. This also lets your guests try two kinds of soup at once!

• Fill tall glass tumblers with soup spoons and put them in the middle of the table.

• Don't forget the decorations: just two or three small candles and few flowers here and there in bud vases will brighten your party.

• Half an hour before your guests arrive, put the soups on the stove to warm over low heat. When your guests walk in they'll smell soup! Put a ladle on a plate next to each pot of soup. Lower the lighting, put on some music, and light the candles. Right before your guests come put the cookies on a pretty plate and cover it with a napkin.

• If your friends are cooks too, turn your soup party into a soup swap!

Related: How to Serve Soup at a Dinner Party

(Images: Martha Stewart/Blueprint; Soup bowl: Crate & Barrel)

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