Gatherings from The Kitchn

Here’s How We Hosted a January Soup Swap

updated May 1, 2019
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Tricia getting the table ready for soup! (Image credit: Christopher Keels Photography)

This week I’ve been sharing the story of the soup swap party I threw with my friend Tricia. I shared the party plan, and then some details on what you need to host a soup swap yourself (honestly, it’s the easiest sort of party!).

Today I’m sharing our own soup swap and how it went. Here’s who we invited, what we served, and the soups the swappers brought!

Before the Party

Tricia and I put our heads together on this party and decided to keep it simple. Tricia has a lot of experience running food swaps, and some of her events are big — hosted at restaurants or community centers, and involving partnership with local chefs and charities. But for this swap, we kept it simple and homey. Tricia hosted it in her own home, and we decided to invite as many people as would fit in her kitchen and dining room.

About Tricia Keels & Souper Heroes

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.

Visit Tricia Online

The Invites

We invited quite a lot of people — all friends or family who loved to cook. Tricia explained the details of the party and gave everyone a week or two to RSVP. About 15 people showed up!

The Food

The party was scheduled for 11am on a post-holiday morning, and we wanted to have some light food. I planned out a few small appetizers for the party.

The Menu: Small Bites for a Soup Swap

The night before the party I did most of the cooking, making:

  • Pimento cheese
  • Prosciutto-wrapped okra
  • Mini frittatas
  • Nutella puffs (prepped but didn’t bake)
  • Breakfast sangria

And of course I made a soup, too! I went with Coco’s simple and lovely red lentil soup, adding some extra curry powder plus a tangy green mango spice mix.

The Printables

This party was so simple — just bring some food, invite people, swap soup. No decorating or big projects: with one exception. The only extra that this party really needed was a few paper printables to keep us organized. I asked my sister to design an invitation postcard, name tags, soup label cards, and swap cards.

The night before the party I printed all these out and we were set.

And now that we did this work, you don’t have to! We have all these ready for you to download and use for your own soup swap!

Get Free Downloadable Printables for Your Own Soup Swap

Download and print on the specified Avery labels or stock.

Soup Swap Invitation Postcard

Print on Avery 8387 Postcards.

Soup Swap Name Tags

Print on Avery 22814 Oval Labels.

Soup Swap Table Tents

Print on Avery 5302 Table Tents.

Soup Swap Cards

Print on Avery 8387 Postcards.

Tricia getting the table ready. (Image credit: Christopher Keels Photography)

The Day of the Party

On the morning of the party I went a couple hours early and toted the food and snacks over to Tricia’s, along with four cartons of frozen red lentil soup — my own offering to the soup swap.

Tricia was cleaning up the kitchen and her husband, Chris, was getting his camera gear ready to shoot photos for us. (He’s a wonderful wedding photographer in the Columbus area.)

Jars for soup samples. (Image credit: Christopher Keels Photography)

Tricia laid a roll of white paper down on her table to keep things neat and easy to clean later. She also pulled a few saucepans out and got them ready for heating up soup tasters.

I set out the food, warming up the crab and red pepper frittatas, and baking the Nutella puffs.

Matt’s glorious focaccia. (Image credit: Christopher Keels Photography)

Meanwhile, guests started to arrive, including Matt Swint, a fabulous local baker who is a friend of Tricia’s and who brought a huge loaf of focaccia to use as tasters for the soups.

Matt setting out bread for tasting soup. (Image credit: Christopher Keels Photography)

Other friends included my own mother-in-law, Elaine, with carrot soup she made with carrots and onions from her own garden (she harvested them the night before the soup swap!) and Chris’s cousin Carmen, who was visiting from New York. Tricia invited her friend Karen, a soup swap veteran (and big fan of The Kitchn), and she came with her husband, also an accomplished soup chef.

My friend Shanna arriving with her soup. (Image credit: Christopher Keels Photography)

It was a mix of friends from nearby and far away — a friend of Tricia’s just happened to be in town from Portland for the holidays. I loved meeting other cooks and seeing all the soups they had made. Surprisingly, there wasn’t even one repeat in a fairly large crowd of over 15 people.

Warming up soup in the kitchen. (Image credit: Christopher Keels Photography)

The Soup Swap

As people arrived, the kitchen quickly filled up! Tricia and I nudged people into the dining room, where the table was all set up for soup. We asked people to fill out table tents to label their soups, and to put on name tags.

So Many Soups!

Some people brought entire Crock-Pots full of warm soup to share; others warmed up testers on the stove. Matt cut up bread and put it out on the table. Once there was plenty of warm soup, Tricia distributed it among small jars and arranged it on the table.

Then the tasting began! Everyone made rounds around the table, dipping bread into soup and exclaiming over their favorites. There was a lot of asking for recipes and chatting about favorite ingredients. It was such a mix of people — lots of people had never met before, but you would never have known, with the warm and lively conversations happening.

Soup Swap Logistics: If someone really loved a soup and wanted to take it home, they wrote their name on the swap card next to the soup.

Time to Swap!

After about an hour of soup tasting, it was time to swap! Tricia introduced the swap, saying that she always wants this part to be a “full-contact sport” with people lunging for the soups they want, but that, in the end, it’s probably better that it isn’t!

We all looked at our swap cards and saw who wanted our soup, and we started handing them out. It was noisy, a little crazy, and really fun to hand jars of soup over the table to someone who eagerly wanted it.

Soup Swap Logistics: Each person gives their soup to someone who wants it, and then receives as many in return as they brought. So after the swap is over, if you brought four quarts of soup, you should be going home with four quarts of soup — they’ll just be new to you and made by someone else!

The soups I took home! (Image credit: Christopher Keels Photography)

When the dust settled I found that I had a chowder, a white bean and bacon soup, lemon and orzo chicken soup, and a Thai squash soup with a separate container of cilantro pesto to swirl into it. Quite a haul — and all soups I wouldn’t ordinarily make myself. What a treat!

Soup Swap: Don’t You Want to Try One?

This was one of the easiest and most fun parties I’ve ever been to! It was so easy — make soup and a few nibbles (or have people bring something to share) — and get a lot of cooks together. What could be better than that?

I love the practicality of sharing soup and soup recipes, and the way it brought people together who wouldn’t ordinarily meet. There isn’t much pressure on the host — just set it up and set out the soup.

And the nudge to cook broke me out of my post-holiday cooking funk; I wasn’t quite ready to start cooking nourishing food in January, but it turned out that soup was all I needed.

Are you ready to try one of these too? I hope so — it’s so fun!

Huge thanks to Tricia and Chris Keels for hosting, lending photography skills, and inducting me into soup swap fandom.

→ Check out Tricia’s Souper Heroes community group