Last week we welcomed autumn with a neighborhood soup swap. This is one of those ingenious, labor-saving, community-building activities that I always wish I did more of. It required no more planning than picking a date and inviting the neighbors. I made cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, but only because I had a recipe I wanted to try out; the treats are purely optional. The best part was that I got to know some new neighbors a bit better and enjoyed the company of some old friends and family as well. There's something about coming together over food that strengthens relationships and just makes you feel a part of something.
Whenever I make soup I tend to make a lot. I love freezing the leftovers or having a big pot inthe fridge we can dip into for easy lunches. Making enough for the swap required making only a bit more than normal (three pans of baked squash rather than two!). Everyone brought six quarts to swap and an extra to donate to a pregnant friend (nothing like knowing the freezer's stocked when your world is about to turn upside down!). But whether you make a little or a lot, the amount of work involved in making a pot of soup doesn't change much, so you might as well make a ton! And while you could live on your own enormous vat of soup for a week, variety is always nice.
I traded six quarts of my butternut squash soup for cream of zucchini, chicken and rice, curried butternut squash with coconut milk, spinach and lentil, and tortilla soup. And this week I plan on spending my normal cooking time curled up on the couch with a good book.
For your own swap:
- Invite a group of friends (it's okay if you have more people than soup varieties; you won't get to sample them all, but everyone will end up with six new varieties).
- Make a huge pot of soup (I pour 7 mason jars full of water into the pot and then dump it out, so I can get a visual for about how much soup I'll need to make, otherwise it's hard to tell). Freezer-friendly varieties are best; bean soups, pureed soups etc. Potato chunks don't freeze well.
- Gather, swap and repeat!
The butternut squash soup recipe can be found in my Plan to Eat account. It was slightly different than the original recipe as I added some delicata squash and accidentally ground up an entire cinnamon stick(!) because I forgot I'd added two and only fished one out before dumping it all in the Vitamix. Luckily that's one powerful blender; the stick was completely ground up and the extra cinnamon didn't hurt the soup one bit.