How to Organize a Soup Swap
Six friends + six soups + a chilly night = one great get-together. Here's how to throw your party, including new recipes from readers to get you started.
What's a soup swap? A group of friends gathers for a party, each bringing several quarts of soup. One quart from each person gets heated and sampled that night (along with plenty of snacks and wine, of course). Before going home, everyone trades soups. To show how it works, we threw our own swap using recipes submitted by the best soup-makers we know-you!
1 Spread the word Soup swaps work best with four to six people. Everyone contributes the same number of quarts of soup as there will be people at the party. (For example, if six people will attend, each should bring 6 quarts-five to give away to friends, one to sample that night. You won't bring home your own soup.) Guests can also bring garnishes like sour cream, wine, snacks or dessert (or the host can provide those).
2 Get cooking! What makes a soup freezer-friendly? Choose broth- or tomato-based recipes. Avoid dairy (cream, milk or cheese) and flour-thickened soups, which sometimes become grainy in the freezer. For noodle soups, consider attaching a baggie of dry pasta to each quart because pasta sometimes gets mushy when frozen. (Your friends can cook the noodles separately and stir them into their reheated quart of soup.) Transfer cooled soup to quart-size containers, leaving room for the soup to expand as it freezes. If you use glass containers, be sure the label reads freezer-safe.
3 Gather your gear Dig in your cupboard for as many mugs, small bowls and spoons as you can find. You'll also need a few pots for warming soup. (Microwaving quarts of soup one at a time takes too long.)
4 Let the feast begin As guests mingle, heat up 1 quart of each person's soup. Don't worry if you can't warm them all up at once. It's actually more fun if you sample one or two at a time so the party moves at a leisurely pace, with guests helping themselves. If you don't have enough dishes or spoons to last through all the soups-you probably won't-just do a quick rinse between rounds. Same goes for pots. This is a casual affair!
5 Swap your soups At the end of the party, everyone trades soups. Guests will leave with 1 quart less than when they arrived, but they'll have a variety of ready-to-eat homemade dinners to stash in the freezer and enjoy through the winter.
Tote your soup in style Raid your craft box for decorating materials to label the containers. We taped circles of scrapbooking paper on top of some round containers and tied tags onto others. Attach a note explaining any special reheating instructions or serving suggestions (such as topping with a dollop of yogurt). You can even include an extra gift, like oyster crackers, corn bread mix or a copy of your recipe. Of course, it doesn't really matter how you package and present your soup because the real treat is the homemade soup inside.