A Soup Swap Primer

Looking forward to cool autumn weather and a bowl of warm, hearty soup? A soup swap is a great way to try new recipes, stock your fridge or freezer with efficient meals, and meet new people. One of my clients invited me to a soup swap last autumn, and it was such a success that I used the same format to host a soup swap today with several of my Balance Personal Fitness Training clients in attendance.

I gave very loose parameters for my soup swap: each person could choose to bring between six and ten single-quart servings of soup. Participants could bring as few or as many different types of soup as they wanted, so long as they were in the six-ten quarts range. I also asked people to bring the recipes for the soup(s) they made; in future swaps, I’ll ask folks to email them to me so every participant can get every soup recipe (and there’s no wasted paper!).

Soups were packaged in cheapy reusable plasticware, reused yogurt or cottage cheese containers, or in double-bagged ziplocks. People brought their soups in a cooler, which allowed them to have suitable storage and transport for their ‘new’ soups until they returned home. (A cooler was very important on a late October day with temps in the mid-80s.)

As people arrived, I had them fill in a chart I made indicating major soup ingredients. The categories were: beef, chicken/turkey, pork, fish, wheat, dairy, soy, vegetarian, and vegan. That way folks with food allergies or dietary preferences could know which soups met their criteria.

Each soup was thereby assigned a letter, and then people placed their soups on a picnic table next to a piece of masking tape labelled with the corresponding letter.

After organizing the soups, each person drew a number out of a bag to determine the swapping order.

We swapped in numerical order, one quart at a time per round. When a participant had selected as many soups as s/he brought, their number was simply skipped in the next round. For seven swappers, the whole swap took right at ten minutes.

Everyone left with a cooler full of yummy soupy goodness in a greater variety than they’d make on their own.

Other logistics:
–The swap works best with 10-15 swappers…any fewer, and choices are a bit limited; any more, and you’ll be swapping forever.
–I chose to hold the soup swap at a local park because a) the weather in late October is usually reliable, b) there would be a playground for kids to play on during the swap, and c) I wouldn’t need to clean my house. Oh, yeah. Picnic tables are really useful for setting out lots and lots of soup!
–We started the swap about 20 minutes after the posted start time—that gave everyone time to fill out the chart, organize their soups, plot their swapping strategy, and enjoy chatting over munchies like homemade banana bread and hummus & pita chips.
–As the swap hostess, I made a few extra quarts of soup in case we had soups with leakage or someone needed additional vegan/gluten-free choices. We didn’t have any such issues, so I came home with plenty of extra soup to freeze. I can’t complain about that!

Now go forth and swap soup!


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