Plan a soup exchange! If you love soup like I do, and you have friends who are wonderful cooks, invite them to participate in a soup exchange and stock your freezer for the cold days ahead. It’s easy, it’s fun, and you will be grateful for the result for some time to come.
When you are making any type of soup, it’s usually true that it’s not much more difficult to make a ton of it than it is to make a small quantity. With a soup exchange, each person makes a huge batch of one type of soup, then packages it up in a pre-agreed-upon size (quart freezer bags or gallon freezer bags) with enough to share a bag with each other participant.
You decide in advance what soups are acceptable. For example, you don’t want to buy half a cow to make a beef stew and receive, in exchange, some clear broth. There’s too big of a disparity in cost. You might plan a soup exchange where all the soups have to be vegetable-based (butternut squash, leek, broccoli, etc.) or just the opposite — some sort of hearty meat, chicken, or seafood soup. Or you might say that if someone makes a soup that is inherently expensive, such as beef stew or lobster bisque, they can put it in quart bags and exchange it for gallon-sized bags of less expensive soups.
The key is to work out the ground rules in advance. Here’s how I like to do it:
Invite 7 other great cooks to participate. Discuss (and decide upon) the ground rules. Give everyone a day or two to decide what they would like to make.
Invoke a “no experiments, please” rule. The soups that are being exchanged should be proven hits. You do not want someone to be sending home packets of “I thought it sounded good, but I was sure disappointed in how it came out.” You have not volunteered to be guinea pigs!
Set a day and time when the exchange will take place. The end of a weekend is often good, because it gives the participants time to cook. The time should be dinner time, because, ideally, each person will bring bags of the soup for each person in the exchange, plus an extra for the evening’s tasting party.
Each cook should freeze each bag of soup flat in the freezer, so they can store easily. Each package should be labeled with a date, the cook, and the name of the soup. Having each cook bring copies of the recipe to hand out is a great addition.
Ask each person to bring a saucepan, to facilitate heating up the soups unless you have to have 8 lying around.
The hostess will need to have lots of very small bowls so that each person can have a small amount of each type of soup. Having a salad to serve with it would be nice, too, but not totally necessary.
Share a lovely meal of a variety of soups, exchange compliments, and haul your loot home to the freezer!
Recently, I wanted to stock up on several types of soup, so I had a soup exchange with myself! I made Tomato Basil Bisque, Portobello Mushroom Soup, Butternut Squash, and one other one, which I can’t remember at the moment. The only problem was that it turned into a soup smorgasboard, and by the end of lunch with my usual crowd, there was nothing left to put away for the future. It’s definitely time to gear up for a REAL soup exchange!
Stay tuned for the next lesson!