Soup Swap Comforting Recipes to Make and Share

Kathy Gunst is a food writer and the author of numerous cookbooks. She is the "Resident Chef" on Here and Now on WBUR, the NPR station in Boston. Kathy was nominated for a James Beard Foundation award in 2000 for her work on this show. 

Her newest title, Soup Swap, is sure to make our chilly days deliciously warmer. Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Kathy's book.

Recently, Kathy Gunst shared the story of how Soup Swap came about along with a recipe for Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons.

What is a soup swap?

This story starts with my friend and neighbor, Hope Murphy. Five years ago, as winter was fast approaching, she called me. "I have the best idea," she began. As someone who is perpetually optimistic, Hope is aptly named. "I love making soup all winter," she explained, "but I get really sick of having the same leftover soup day after day. What if we had a soup-swap party?"

A what?

Of course, she had thought it all through. "We invite six food-loving couples and meet once a month during the winter. One couple hosts, and each of the other couples brings a homemade soup. The hosts provide a side dish, such as a salad, along with a loaf of crusty bread and a dessert-and we have a party. Then we all go home with different soups to enjoy all week. No one gets bored with just one pot of leftovers."

The deal was that everyone had to love to cook and that we would only invite friends who weren't on special diets. (We love vegans, vegetarians, and our dairy- and gluten-free friends, but sometimes you just don't want to alter a menu.) Half a decade later, the Second Sunday Soup Swap Suppers are alive and well. They have become a ritual we all look forward to.

Soup swaps can happen anywhere, with any number of people. I wrote an article for Yankee magazine a few years back about our suppers and have since met people who have told me that after reading the piece, they started their own soup swaps. They formed their own groups-with coworkers, fitness buddies, book-group members, fellow teachers, single pals,  and others-and simply used the venues at hand-the office, yoga class, meeting room, or school teacher's lounge.


Makes 8 to 10 tasting portions or 6 full servings
Can be served cold, vegetarian

The ultimate comfort meal-tomato soup with grilled cheese (croutons) on top. Obviously it is best to make this soup in the summer and fall, when fresh garden tomatoes are available, but there are some "acceptable" winter-tomato substitutes such as good-quality organic canned tomatoes or hothouse-grown organic winter tomatoes. Add 1/2 tsp sugar with the tomatoes if you are preparing this soup in winter. The Grilled-Cheese Croutons will appeal to kids as well as grown-ups.

2 medium leeks
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, chopped
2 lb [910 g] vine-ripened tomatoes
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups [960 ml] Vegetable Stock
1/4 cup [60 ml] heavy cream (optional)
Grilled-Cheese Croutons, halved, for garnish
1/3 cup [20 g] fresh basil, cut into very fine ribbons

1.       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 thin pieces.

2.       In a large stockpot over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leeks, onions, and shallot and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes.

3.       Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cut a small X in the stem end of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and blanch them for about 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a colander to drain. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin from the tomatoes, remove the core, and coarsely chop the flesh.

4.       Add the tomatoes to the stockpot, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to high, add the vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

5.       Using a food processor or blender and working in batches or using a handheld immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, add the cream (if using), and sim­mer over low heat for about 10 min­utes. If the soup is too thin or watery, simmer for about another 10 minutes, until slightly thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.

6.       Ladle the soup into mugs or bowls and top each with 2 to 4 croutons or a half-slice of open-faced crouton, if you prefer. Garnish with the basil and serve.TO GO: Prepare the croutons but instead of adding the basil and cheese and broiling them, place them on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Pack the basil and cheese separately. At the party, broil the croutons with the cheese and sprinkle with the basil just before serving with the soup.



MAKES 8 TO 10 CUPS [2 TO 2.4 L]
Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

The first time I made my own vegetable stock, using scraps I had in the refrig­erator, I was amazed at the depth of flavor I got from food I would have otherwise thrown away or composted. This stock takes about an hour and is so superior to supermarket canned broth that you'll be hooked.

Start a bag collecting vegetable scraps-think peelings, trimmings, leaves, stems, and more. When you have about 3 lb [1.4 kg], you're ready to make stock. The secret to drawing out the best flavor is balance. If you add 3 cups [210 g] of cauliflower or Brussels sprouts trimmings, your broth will have a heavy brassica taste; you want to balance members of the onion family with other vegetables such as carrots, cel­ery, fennel, herbs, or mushrooms.

3 to 4 lb [1.4 to 1.8 kg] leftover vegetable scraps, thoroughly washed and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
6 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup [30 g] chopped fresh parsley
Sea salt

1.       In a large stockpot, combine all the vegetable scraps, the carrots, celery, peppercorns, bay leaf, and parsley and season with salt. Add enough cold water to just barely cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the stock is flavorful. Taste the stock. If the flavor is weak, remove the lid and simmer over medium heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Strain the stock and let cool.

2.       Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

Makes 24 to 32 croutons

This new twist on the classic accompaniment to tomato soup will go well with almost any vegetable-based soup. You can use your favorite type of freshly grated hard cheese and any fresh herb you like to complement the soup you're serving.

8 bread slices of any variety you like
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
8   fresh basil leaves
1   cup [80 g] freshly grated sharp cheddar, Parmesan, or other hard cheese

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Using half of the olive oil, lightly brush one side of each slice and broil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, flip the bread, and brush with the remaining oil. Top each slice with a basil leaf and sprinkle with an equal amount of cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

3. When ready to serve, cut the bread in half and serve the crouton open-faced, or sandwich two pieces of bread together and cut each sandwich into six large or eight small croutons.

TO GO: The croutons can be made about 1 hour ahead, but they are best when made at the last minute. Be sure to cool them before packing them in a tightly sealed container for transport.

1 Comment

  • Isis  on  9/17/2016 at 7:19 PM

    I love Oyster Rockefeller Soup!

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