What better way to spend a late winter afternoon than eating with friends, swapping soup, drinking wine and playing a game — that’s the way Debbie Noland, of Sedalia, likes to celebrate the eighth annual National Soup Swap Day slated for Jan. 25.
Noland began the tradition with her summer pool/swimming friends several years ago after finding the National Soup Swap website.
“It all goes back to I like soup, so one night I was surfing the Internet for soup recipes and it came up soup swap and I thought what?” she said. “So I checked it out and … I got to reading about it and it was fascinating and I thought we could have a soup swap and we could take home all these. If you make a batch of soup and freeze it yourself, it’s all the same, but this way you get all different varieties.”
This year five friends attended her soup swap. Kathleen Boswell brought pot roast and homemade noodle soup, Lisa Shoemaker brought blue ribbon chili, Terry Bohon brought cabbage beef soup, Donna Holhubner brought meatball vegetable soup, and Judy Woolery brought Dan’s steak soup.
Noland made a Mexican pozole soup with several garnishes, which she served to her friends before the swap.
Each woman prepared the soup beforehand and then froze it in one quart containers. That way they could swap with each other and take home five quarts of soup — one from each friend.
“All of us are empty nesters, so a quart of soup is perfect for two people,” she said.
Noland said that in the tradition of National Soup Swap Day, everyone gets to participate in the “Telling of the Soup.”
Noland, a retired college English instructor from State Fair Community College, began with her story of making pozole.
“Back when I was teaching I used to assign a paper that needed to be developed by reasons,” she said. “So we were doing the reasons paper and I always loved to make soup. It was winter time and I had this PowerPoint slide up with a sample outline telling my class, if I were doing this paper this is what I’d write about. Because there are four reasons why I like to make soup.”
Noland’s four reasons are because it’s economical, it’s delicious, it’s convenient and it’s nutritious.
“A side effect of me doing that was that students would find out that I liked to make soup, so they would bring me soup recipes,” she added. “So I amassed a collection of soup recipes … and this particular soup was one of those from a student named Mike Troutman.”
The uniqueness of the pozole recipe is the use of white hominy, the use of both pork and chicken and of course the soup’s many garnishes, such as lime slices, jalapeno peppers, chopped radishes, onion and lettuce.
Boswell said she also enjoys making soup and loves to make it from found ingredients in her refrigerator. She also likes to make homemade noodles and recently bought a pasta machine. With this year’s soup, she decided to cook a pot roast, added the vegetables and then turned it into a soup. Since the soup is frozen, when giving to others for the soup swap, she keeps the noodles in a separate bag to add once it is warmed up.
“We just play with soup all time,” she said. “Every now and then my husband will say, ‘This is really good make it again,’ and I’m like I can’t it was made with leftovers.”
Woolery’s steak soup has a special story about Dan, her middle child. The soup came from her mother, a cookbook collector.
“She really, really liked Junior League cookbooks,” she said. “My middle child, Dan, he was always an eater. One day, he was probably about 8, and my mom had given me a new St. Louis Junior League cookbook and I thought oh goodness what am I going to cook. And it fell open to this steak soup recipe.”
Dan was having a bad day, which was rare because he was always happy. Woolery decided to make the soup, and it brought back his smile. She has used it since that time.
“From that time on, he’s loved this soup,” she added.
Shoemaker’s chili was taken from one of the Sedalia Women’s Service League’s cookbooks. It has three meats — ground beef, bulk sausage, and round steak — but no beans. She made the chili Dec. 29 for relatives and it was a hit.
“I thought chili is perfect because it was a cold day, but I have a number in my family who do not like beans,” she said. “I got to looking through the Women’s Service League cookbook and I found this three meat chili. I’ll tell you in my family we have meat eaters, absolute carnivores! And I thought three meats and no beans so this would be perfect. God has put this recipe in front of me,” she added laughing.
Holhubner’s soup story centers around the meatballs in her vegetable soup. She searched her cookbooks for a soup recipe and found one called hamburger vegetable soup. She decided to tweak it by making meatballs instead.
“I modified it because I really didn’t want ground beef all through the soup,” she said. “I used most of the same ingredients, I just took the meat and made meatballs out of it. And then after I made it, I changed the recipe because I didn’t have enough meatballs.”
She added an extra half pound of beef and made bite sized meatballs.
“You can put them on a cookie sheet, and stick them in the oven for a half hour, and they’re done,” she added.
Bohon’s cabbage beef soup came from a friend who, several years ago, worked as a waitress at Shoney’s.
“They had a cabbage beef soup that they served there,” she said. “And she came across this recipe and said this is very similar to what they serve. It makes up a lot and we usually have it New Year’s Eve and at big family gatherings.”
For those interested in starting a soup swap tradition, visit the Soup Swap Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Soup-Swap/162887987065393 or the website at soupswap.com.
Large pot of water
1 medium whole chicken
2 pounds pork roast
4 finely chopped or blended Roma tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or blended
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 good pinch of oregano
No. 10 can of white hominy, drained
Pinch of salt
Cook all ingredients in pot until chicken comes off the bones and pork falls apart. Cut meat into small pieces if needed. Salt to taste.
Serve in large bowls with the following garnishes:
Lime wedges (for the juice)
Chopped fresh oregano (optional)
Chilies or chipotle peppers
Substitutions and variations (Debbie):
I have used a can of crushed tomatoes in place of the Roma tomatoes. I have added black pepper, chicken bouillon cubes and/or tomato juice to taste. I do not typically use oregano and pepper garnishes.