It was the fall of 2012, and my coworker and I were 100% sick of paying $6-7 for a small carton of soup at the Soup Kiosk around the corner from our Soho office.
We were equally sick of our own soups that we'd each been making on Sundays and eating, bowl after increasingly mundane bowl, throughout the week. It wasn't that our homemade soups were bad, or that we disliked them, it was simply this: soup gets boring when you the same one over and over and over again.
We came up with a solution. We'd swap our extra soups, leaving each of us with two soups, instead of one. It's not exactly rocket science, but we felt pretty smart.
But why stop at two? By bringing more people into the fold, we could have even more liquid meal variety. Thus, we recruited a handful of our Foursquare colleagues and outlined the rules for the first-ever (among our friends, anyway) Soup Swap.
- Make soup on a Sunday.
- Fill two, pint-sized Ball mason jars (yes, we're those people) w/ said soup.
- Bring your jars of soup to the office on Monday.
- Swap that soup for two others.
Each person is left with two mason jars of two different homemade soups to consume at his or her leisure. So nice, right?
Unfortunately, the Soup Swap only lasted about three Mondays before it collapsed. People were tired, or busy, or out of town, and the soups, well, they just didn't get made. For all its glory, the Swap was short-lived, and I was left sad and soupless.
Flash forward to a year later, in October of 2013. I had started working at Vimeo a few months earlier, and during lunch one day, two of my coworkers and I realized our shared obsession with chowders, bisques, chilis, stews, and chicken noodle. I told them the legend of the Soup Swap, and we resolved to resurrect it, Vimeo-style.
There were one pun-filled calendar invite, six participants, and 12 mason jars in total. I made a vegan-friendly chipotle corn chowder, and swapped for lentil soup and broccoli leek. And so it began.
Regularly swapping has additional benefits beyond the avoidance of soup fatigue. For one, the Soup Swap has helped me form friendships with those coworkers who share a love of cooking. I've been exposed to their tastes and recipes, which are often different from my own, but just as good if not better. I mean, maybe I never would have attempted that green spinach+garlic situation that ended up tasting like (garlic-y) ambrosia, but Justin totally went for it. And it ruled.
And soup isn't the only thing that gets swapped — we also share advice and pro tips. How to hack into a butternut squash, the best way to cook non-mushy lentils — I've learned a ton. OK, enough of the cheesy infomercial. Those are just a few examples of the Swap awesomeness. I'll leave you with my recipe for Chipotle Corn Chowder & Garlic Croutons:
Chipotle Corn Chowder
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 medium red potatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups frozen or fresh yellow corn kernels
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, stems removed
- ⅛ tsp chili powder OR if you like it SPICY: ½ tsp chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (be careful)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup milk or soy milk
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
Heat olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, season with salt, pepper, and chili powder and cook until translucent. Add garlic, and cook for 30 seconds more. Add vegetable stock and water, stir, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes until slightly reduced.
Add milk, potatoes, corn, and thyme and bring back to a simmer. Cook 15-20 minutes more, uncovered, until potatoes are tender.
Once potatoes are tender, remove a cup of them, smash with a fork until smooth, then add back to the saucepan. Repeat with a second cup of potatoes.
Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with bread, or garlic croutons (recipe to follow).
- 1 crusty italian loaf
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
- ¼ tsp dried or fresh herbs
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp salt
Move rack to the top third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Cut bread into 1.5-inch chunks and toss in bowl with olive oil. Add spices and mix.
Spread bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway, until golden brown.
The Soup Swap has been going strong since that October kick-off. An average of six of us gather every Monday at 12:30 to trade soups, stories, and recipes and our only complaint is that winter will, one day, come to an end.