By Emma Grace:
As the days get shorter and nights get cooler, I naturally switch from summer energy to a more subdued autumn and winter vibe; however, I don’t want to sacrifice my time with friends for my tendency to be cozy! Spending time nurturing your social life has shown to contribute to better overall health and stress reduction, so during the months when I’m prone to hibernation, I get creative in gathering people around so we can be cozy together. My new favorite excuse is to host Soup Swaps, an idea popularized by Kathy Gunst’s cookbook of the same name. Soup’s warmth and nourishment makes it a perfect food to share with friends any time of the year, but especially during the colder months.
The basic premise is simple — similar to a potluck, but with a nice twist at the end. The host can volunteer to be in charge of salad, bread and dessert. Guests each bring a big pot of soup (complete with add-ins and unique toppings) and a few empty jars for leftovers. Everyone gets together to spend time enjoying good food and good company. When the potluck is over, the leftovers are packed into jars and sent home with all the guests. That way, everyone (including the host, of course) takes away a meal or two or three of a DIFFERENT soup from the one they made. These jars can go into the refrigerator for a meal within the next few days, or can be stored in the freezer for future consumption.
Being able to enjoy homemade soups made by friends is a great benefit of a Soup Swap. It is a great way to try new flavors and ingredients without having to commit to a big pot of soup yourself. Aside from that, it is a great excuse to meet up with friends over good food and spend time together, as well as an opportunity to meet new people.
Green-Mom.com has a sizable selection of soup recipes in the kitchen archives. Some of our favorites include curried coconut pumpkin soup and creamy mushroom soup with apple and walnut toasts. Family recipes are always fun to contribute to a Soup Swap, especially if they have a secret ingredient everyone will wonder about.
And don’t forget the toppings! Don’t be afraid to get creative. For a quick and classic addition, try mixing creme fraiche with freshly chopped herbs to dollop on top of a spiced soup, or blend a high quality, extra virgin olive oil with herbs or spices to drizzle upon serving. If you’d like to try something more unusual, consider gluten-free crunchy fried onion pieces, toasted pumpkin seeds, or roasted chickpeas.
To hear Kathy Gunst talk about hosting a Soup Swap, you can listen courtesy of NPR here. Go ahead and send out some invitations and get cooking. Let us know how your Soup Swap turns out!