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Cooking on a Shoestring: Plan a Soup Swap!

Cooking on a Shoestring: Plan a Soup Swap!

There’s a chill in the air with the official start of fall this week, so I thought it would be the perfect time to share this Soup Swap idea again, along with several of my very favorite soup recipes.  Soup is a hearty and frugal meal, and it’s even better when shared with friends!

So what’s a Soup Swap?  A few years ago I was introduced to the idea by a friend from church.  Everyone makes a big pot of soup, and brings it to the party in 1-quart freezer-safe containers.   Set the number ahead of time—whatever number people bring, that’s how much they take home.  If six families participate, everyone could bring six containers, and take one of each home.  Or if you have a larger crowd, choose a reasonable number, and let people choose the ones their family will eat.

It helps to have a combination of kid-friendly soups and more sophisticated grown-up soups.  If you’re hosting, make a double batch of your soup, and enlist another volunteer or two to double their recipe.  Others can bring bread or rolls, crackers and cheese, fruit or veggie trays, or drinks to round out the menu. 

Rotisserie chickens are a great short cut when making homemade soup.  Pull the chicken off the bones and set it aside to use in soup or casseroles, and boil up the carcass in a big pot of water to make your own stock.  Add veggies and cooked noodles for a simple, hearty homemade chicken noodle soup, or use your favorite recipe to make something more complicated. 

Here’s a recipe for the yummy comfort-food Baked Potato Soup.  You might also like these recipes for Broccoli Cheese soup and Chicken Gnocchi soup.

Baked Potato Soup

  • 6-8 large potatoes (or more if you have smaller ones)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • about 1/3 lb bacon, cooked
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup sour cream

Bake potatoes until soft (either in the microwave or the oven).  Scoop insides into a bowl, and mash or cube, depending how chunky you want the soup to be.  (I like it somewhere in the middle, so I use my potato masher and mash most of it, leaving some bite-sized potato chunks.)  Set prepared potatoes aside.

In a large pot, melt the butter, then whisk in the flour to make a roux.  Cook for one minute, then add the milk.  When it bubbles and thickens a little, add the chicken broth.  Then add the potatoes, crumbled bacon, cheese, and salt & pepper to taste.  Just before serving, stir in the sour cream (you don’t want the sour cream to cook too long).  Serve with a little extra cheese to garnish.

If you’re making this for a soup swap, dish it into the smaller containers to cool–the sour cream can overpower the taste if it’s kept hot in a big pot for too long (found this out the hard way when I quadrupled the recipe for a big crowd!).  Add milk when you reheat leftovers–it’ll be thick!  A yummy comfort-food type soup…but not low-cal or low-fat, so this one can be an occasional treat rather than part of your regular repertoire! 😉

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