Here in Texas where winter is usually a fleeting thought at best, we’ve been hit with a few below-freezing cold snaps. Locals like to grouse about the difficult driving conditions and having to wear closed-toed shoes, but I get excited. I finally get to put on my favorite fuchsia winter coat and best of all, it’s prime soup-party time!
My friends can tell you that it doesn’t take much for me to throw a party. It’s never about being formal at my house, it’s just about friends getting together, preferably around good food — and soup parties offer some of the best, most comforting eats of the season.
On a lazy winter Sunday, I like to make a big pot of soup and call up a few friends to help me enjoy it. When I set the table, I make sure to include a few small bowls of soup toppings down the middle. As far as I’m concerned, the toppings are what turns the occasion from “just dinner” into a party!
This little tradition started with my family, when my parents would make congee, a simple rice soup that relies on toppings to bring the flavor, whether it’s pickled vegetables, pork floss or the mysteriously murky, umami-filled “thousand-year-old eggs.”
Some of my favorite soups for these kinds of parties are:
Mexican Chicken Soup with Ancho Chiles, served with lime wedges, tortilla chips, cilantro and slices of avocado.
Potato and Leek Soup with Brie Croutons, with extra brie and baguette slices on the side, please!
Soup Swap Meet
This kind of soup-exchange party requires a little more planning, but it’s definitely worth it. I send an invite out about a month ahead of the party, with a required RSVP and a request to let me know about any special diets. It’s integral to get an exact headcount in advance, so everybody knows exactly how many portions of soup to bring. I usually ask for a few vegan contributions too, so that those friends aren’t left soupless!
The week before the party, I assign everybody a number of individual containers of soup to bring. The day of, everybody brings their labeled containers of soup and we start the swap! Everyone leaves with a soup stash of as much soup as they’ve brought, but with a fun variety of flavors. It’s a great chance to add a few new soup recipes to your repertoire, such as Moroccan Spiced Chickpea and Lentil Soup, Mini-Meatball Noodle Soup or Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup.
Do you have a favorite way to share your soup? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Now grab your biggest pot and ladle and get ready to sip and slurp — soup’s on!