When I ran my mobile cooking school for children, my absolute favorite classes revolved around community service. My students and I did lots of events in our community to raise funds to fight hunger and to support homeless organizations. Soup was a type of meal that we could all consistently rally behind. It was always warm, nurturing, and seemed like the closest thing to getting a hug, from the inside out.
Since soup brings me feelings of do-gooding nostalgia, I was thrilled to learn about my friend Kathy’s new book, Soup Swap. While most cookbooks have just a handful of recipes that pique my interest, this book now has more dog-eared pages than I can count. As a busy mom, I truly appreciate the book’s premise of getting together with friends, each with a pot of soup in hand, having a tasting party, and then departing with jars of different types of soup to nourish your family in the weeks ahead. I don’t know about you, but I get sick of my own food…and it would be such a relief to open my freezer and find a little variety.
A Soup Swap Twist: Feeding the Hungry
While I love the idea of socializing with friends over several types of soup, I also love the concept of cooking with friends and their kids…and sharing our results with the hungry in our community. Here are some ideas for how you can put a little spin on Soup Swap.
- Pick 2 or 3 friends who have kids that love to cook.
- Identify who among you has a kitchen that can accommodate a few cooks at the same time.
- Each family should pick a Soup recipe from Kathy’s book and bring the ingredients required to make it.
- Gather in the kitchen with your friends, put on some fun music, and get cooking with the kids.
- Whenever there is any down time, give the kids jobs to do: washing ingredients, wiping counters, stirring soup, washing dishes, taking any cans from your cooking out to the recycling etc.
- Once the soups are finished, you can package them in jars and then hand them out to people who are hungry in your community. You can find mason jars at any hardware store or you can save and reuse clean jars from other foods you buy: marinara sauce, mayonnaise, apple sauce etc.
- Another option would be to contact a food pantry or a soup kitchen in advance, and offer to bring your soup to their dining room one evening before they serve dinner.
Want a Recipe?
After pouring through the pages of this book, this is the recipe that my family voted on. This is exactly the type of soup that I crave on cool fall or winter nights, alongside a toasted baguette and a side salad. It’s easy to make in advance and simply reheat after the kids get home from cross country practice.
from Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst
10-12 tasting portions or 8 full servings
2 medium leeks
1 1/2 Tbs. Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-in (12 mm) pieces
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-in (12 mm) pieces
2 large celery stalks, cut into 1/2-in (12 mm) pieces
1 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-in (12 mm) pieces
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup (30 g) packed finely chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
1 1/2 Tsp tomato paste
2 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and cut 1/2-in (12 mm) pieces or 2 cups (44o g) good quality canned crushed Italian tomatoes
1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional), plus 1 cup (80 g.) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups (440 g) cooked white cannellini beans, or canned beans (drained, rinsed, and re-drained)
8 oz (230 g) cooked Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-in (12 mm) pieces (optional)
6 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup (30 g) small soup pasta (such as acini di pepe)
- Trim off the dark green sections from the leeks and save for making vegetable stock. Halve the pale green and white sections lengthwise. Rinse under cold running water, pat dry, and cut crosswise into 1/2-in (12 mm) pieces.
- In a large stockpot over low heat, warm the olive oil.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the leeks, cover and cook, stirring once or twice for 6 minutes.
- Add the carrots, parsnip, celery, zucchini, rosemary and half of the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
- Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. The vegetables should be just beginning to turn gold.
- Add the tomato paste, stir to coat the vegetables, and cook another 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, Parmesan rind, if using, and stir well.
- Turn the heat to high, add the vegetable stock, and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
- If the soup is not as flavorful as you like, remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Add the pasta to the soup and simmer for 10 minutes more, or until the pasta is al dente, or just barely tender. Remember – if you are bringing this soup to a Soup Swap party, you will be reheating the soup, so you want to slightly under-cook the pasta. If you are using orzo or anything larger, boil the pasta separately, drain and then add to the soup.
- When ready to serve, ladle the soup into mugs or bowls. Top with parsley and grated cheese.
- To Go: pack the grated cheese and parsley separately.
I’d love to hear from you! What’s your favorite type of soup? Have you and your kids ever done any food-related community service projects? Please share your stories in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear about them!
Get a FREE Cook & Learn Activity!
As a subscriber, you'll get free Cook and Learn Activities with kids, simple recipes and special offers delivered right to your inbox!