School closings. Wind chills in the way-below-zero range. Never-ending snow blowing and shoveling. Whiteout road conditions.
If that’s not soup making and consuming weather, I don’t know what is. I imagine there have been many big pots simmering on area stovetops in recent days.
As I was looking up information about National Soup Month (which is January, of course), I came across another interesting notable January date on the Internet. It seems that Jan. 23 this year is the fourth annual National Soup Swap Day.
This movement began with a fellow from Seattle, Knox Gardner, who had an abundance of leftover soup he wanted to share with friends. According to soupswap.com: “Soup Swap was born. Fun to say and easy to do, Knox and his friends spent a couple of years working out a system that’s easy and brought some much-needed variation to supper during the dreary, rainy season.”
With the help of the Internet, the concept spread, and now Soup Swap takes place at venues across the country — and there’s even one in the sunny and warm Bahamas. The closest I can locate is in Minneapolis, but I wouldn’t be surprised if such an effort was embraced wholeheartedly in southwest Minnesota.
Here are the basic Soup Swap guidelines and advice:
- Schedule soup swap so there are at least two full weekends prior to make soup.
- Invite everyone you know, and then ask them to invite everyone they know. There will be plenty of picky eaters and skeptics, but you’ll want as many folks to show up as you can find.
- Ask folks to bring SIX quarts of a frozen soup. Six quarts is generally the biggest stock pot in most kitchens. Often the recipes will need to be doubled or tweaked to get this amount.
- The weekend before Soup Swap, remind folks and by all means, start dropping hints on all the wonderful soup you’ve been hearing about. After six years in Seattle, Soup Swap is up there with full-body contact sports in competitiveness!
- At the Soup Swap, chit chat and drink some wine prior to the designated swap time.
- Begin the “Telling of the Soup.” This is each chef’s opportunity to talk about what makes their soup special. Is it organic? It is spicy? Does it have anything someone might not be able to eat? Is it a treasured recipe?
- Place “Soup Selection” numbers in a hat equal in number to the participants, and each person will draw a number. No. 1 picks the first soup, No. 2 the second and so on, until everyone has selected a soup. Repeat six times until all the soup is gone.
Has all this made you hungry for soup? Even if you’re not game for a swap, you may be in need of some soup recipes.
This first recipe, Vegetable Cheese Soup, is probably the soup that’s made most often at my abode. It was originally printed in DotMom’s Mixing & Musing column, attributed to the local home economics professionals group. It’s a bit different than other beer-cheese soups — not as thick and filled with veggies.
Dice 2 large potatoes, 2 large onions, ½ cup carrots and ½ cup celery.
In a three-quart saucepan, pour two 12-ounce cans beer and add 4 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon (I use about 2 teaspoons powdered stock base); add veggies and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Stir in 2 cups shredded Cheddar or process American cheese (8 ounces), 1 cup half and half (or low fat evaporated milk) and 6 drops hot pepper sauce. Heat until cheese is melted.
This Taco Soup received many recipe requests after first being brought to a Daily Globe potluck soup event by graphics guy Nate Einck. Everyone who has tried it raves about the ease of preparation.
In a large pot, brown 1 pound ground beef and 1 large onion. Add 1½ cups water, 1 package taco seasoning and 1 package ranch-style dressing mix. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
Stir in three 16-ounce cans Mexican-style chili beans or black beans (sources here recommend two Mexican-style and one of black beans), undrained; two 11-ounce cans Mexican-style corn (regular corn works in a pinch); one 15-ounce can tomato sauce or 1 small can of tomato sauce and a 15-ounce can diced tomatoes; and one small can chopped green chiles.
Simmer for another 15 minutes.
Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream.