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How to Host a Soup Swap

Pot of soup, bowls of soup, crescents
When the weather cools, warm up with a soup swap. Gather your friends, exchange your favorite soups and keep your freezer full all season long. We have all the details on how to host your best, coziest souped-up party.

Ever heard of a soup swap? It’s a fun, fuss-free way to get together with friends, warm up with soup and bring home multiple meals to stash away in the freezer for later. We’re here for it—and here for you, with all the tips and tricks for hosting the best soup swap ever.

How a Soup Swap Works

The purpose of a soup swap is simple: To exchange homemade soups and enjoy a casual gathering with friends or family. It’s a great excuse for a party, and the best part is everyone goes home with plenty of soup to keep cozy during the cold months of the year. Generally, a soup swap takes place in the fall or winter, though there’s no wrong time to host one—soup is always in season.

If you’ve never hosted or attended a soup swap before, here’s how it works: As part of his or her RSVP, each person attending makes several quarts of soup to bring to the party. The day of, you and a few of your friends or family (or both!) get to hang out, sample soups along with other snacks and drinks, and go home with enough soup in to-go containers to fill your freezer and enjoy for the next few months.

Why do we love this idea? Besides the fact that it’s a great reason to get together with your favorite people, you also get to stock your freezer with plenty of cozy, hearty soups to enjoy on nights when prepping dinner from step one is just too much to handle. It also saves you from having to make a trip to the grocery store to get dinner on the table. And, it gives you the opportunity to try soups you may never have tried before!

Tips for Hosting a Soup Swap

The first step to hosting a soup swap is to plan ahead. Follow these general guidelines and you’re well on your way to a successful party.

When to Start Planning a Soup Swap

It’s best to give guests plenty of notice—about three to four weeks is ideal. This way, everyone has enough time to decide on a recipe, make a large batch of soup and have it refrigerated or frozen and ready for the party. You can send invites by snail mail, or use social media (such as a Facebook event) and keep track of RSVPs electronically. Don’t forget to consider allergies—if you know a friend has a specific allergy, request in the invitation that guests bring soups that don’t include this ingredient.

When sending out invitations, ask what type of soup each person plans to make. If a few people respond with duplicate soup recipes, you can ask some of them to pick a different recipe. Keep a tally of how many people plan to come to the soup swap—the final guest count will determine how much soup each person needs to bring.

Soup Swap Logistics

Soup swaps are meant to be casual, but there is some do-ahead on the part of the host in order to ensure a successful get-together. Thankfully, it’s all easy to do. First, set up a counter or table where guests can gather to enjoy snacks, beverages and of course, soup. Include a station with labels and pens or markers so everyone can write the recipe names. When everyone arrives, have them store what they brought in the fridge or freezer, if there’s room, so the soups stay cold. Collect one container from each guest to be used as the sample, and heat them up on the stove all at once, or in batches, depending on how much space/how many pots you have. Finally, have plenty of bowls, jars or cups and spoons on hand for lots of soup sampling! You can use what you have or buy plastic bowls and spoons from a party store.

Snacks and Beverages

Make sure to have a few snacks, appetizers or finger foods on hand to complement all the soup. Consider serving dips with chips or veggies, crescents or biscuits to dunk in soup, or easy appetizers, like Stuffed Pretzel Dippers with Cheesy Mustard Dip or Greek Chicken Crescent Roll-Ups.

Also have drinks at the ready to quench your guests’ thirst. Sparkling water and lemonade are simple, refreshing options to help everyone keep their cool between soups.

Best Soups for a Soup Swap

Whether you’re hosting the soup swap or just attending, the best soups to make for a soup swap are ones that freeze well. You can choose a light or hearty soup, a smooth or chunky soup, but keep in mind that broth- or tomato-based soups tend to freeze best, whereas soups with dairy (such as cream, milk or cheese) and flour-thickened soups can become grainy once frozen. For noodle-based soups, consider packing dry pasta on the side as pasta sometimes becomes mushy in the freezer. Also keep in mind the amount of ingredients needed in relation to how much you need to make, big batch-style. Here are a few of our favorite soup recipes to inspire you.

How Much Soup Should Each Person Make?

Once the RSVPs have been collected, you can decide how much soup each guest should make. A good rule of thumb is to have each guest make one quart of soup per each attendee. For example, if six people total attend, each guest (including you) should make six quarts of soup—one to sample the night of the party, and five quarts to give away (you won’t go home with a quart of your own soup). For the sample soup, guests can choose to bring garnishes that enhance the soup, including sour cream, cheese, herbs, croutons, etc.

Party Planning Timeline

Two Weeks Before the Party: Finalize the Guest List
About two weeks out, confirm the guest list and collect everyone’s soup recipe (to account for any duplicates). Once the number of guests is finalized, inform everyone of how much soup they need to make (and ask someone to make a different recipe if it’s the same as someone else’s). Also plan your own soup recipe, plus any appetizers or beverages to have at the party.

One Week Before the Party: Shop for Groceries and Supplies
One week before the party is the perfect time to gather any groceries needed for your soup as well as for the snacks and drinks for the party. This is also a great time to stock up on bowls, spoons, napkins, cups, etc.—anything needed for guests to enjoy plenty of soup and appetizers. Consider also purchasing a few to-go soup containers and labels for guests to take with them, in case someone forgets to bring their own.

If you have the time and energy, also consider printing out copies of everyone’s soup recipes for guests to take home with them. Ask your invitees to send you the ingredients and instructions or a link to the recipe online ahead of time.

Two Days Before the Party: Make Your Soup
Now is the perfect time to make one big batch of your soup recipe—or several batches over the course of two days, if that works best for you. If you can make the soup earlier than a couple of days before the party, freeze it portioned into quart-size (or larger) freezer-friendly containers. Otherwise, refrigerate the soup in to-go containers in preparation for the party.

One Day Before the Party: Prep the Party Space
This is a casual affair: No need to decorate or make anything elaborate. Instead, focus on setting a natural, accessible gathering space for guests to come together to sample soups and munch on snacks. Prepare stations: One with bowls/jars and spoons for soups, one with appetizers and beverages (with plates, napkins and cups) and one with extra to-go containers, labels and pens or markers.

Now’s a good time to take inventory of how many pots you have to cook everyone’s sample soup—this way, you know ahead of time if you’re able to make multiple soups at a time, or if you’ll need to heat them in batches at the party.

Day of the Party: Make the Appetizers and Beverages
With your space and soup prepped, all that’s left to do is make the snacks and drinks for the party! Keep a mental note of bake and cool times, and work your way through the recipes from longest prep time to shortest prep time. Anything that can be refrigerated or can sit out for a longer amount of time should be made first (like our Ranch Crack Dip), and anything that tastes best warm from the oven should be made just before guests arrive (such as our Easy Stuffed Mushrooms).

For beverages, consider filling a small basin or cooler with a bag of ice to keep cold drinks cool, or store it with ice in a drink dispenser.

During the Party

Pot of soup, bowls of soup, crescents

Remember, this party is meant to be laidback and stress-free, so no need to set a strict schedule for the party itself. That being said, if you like having a more concrete plan, here are some ideas to keep the flow of the party going:

Snack and Sample Soups First
The purpose of the party is, of course, to enjoy each others’ company—but also to eat. Get guests started right away on appetizers and drinks while you heat up the soups. The first half of the party can be spent snacking and sampling amidst good conversation.

Have a Soup-er Discussion
Yep, we said it: If you’re part of a soup swap party, it’s only natural to want to talk about the soups! Have guests share why they made their soup recipe, what they love about it and any special directions on reheating the soup or any suggested garnishes.

Play Some (Easy!) Party Games
If you and your guests are into it—and everyone is full on yummy soups—playing a few party games can keep the momentum going and inspire even more conversation (and laughs). Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Pictionary: No need to have the official board game for this crowd favorite. All you need to do is have a stack of cards in advance with random words or phrases written on them. A teammate will choose a card and then, while timed, draw the image written on a large sheet of paper or whiteboard on an easel while fellow teammates guess what it is.
  • Charades: This classic game is as easy as it is fun! To start, a player thinks of a book title, a famous person’s name, a movie title or a song title to pantomime. The player then pantomimes to the other players the word or phrase he’s chosen. The first person to guess the word or phrase gets a point. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.
  • 20 Questions: For this simple game, you don’t need to prepare anything or have any special materials on hand. This game works best with smaller groups, but if you have quite the crowd, you can break up the guests into smaller teams. To play, select one person to begin. The player must then choose any person, place or thing. Once he or she has chosen, the guessing begins. Other players take turns asking “yes” or “no” questions in an attempt to figure out the answer. Keep track of the number of questions and guesses until it reaches the limit of 20. If a player guesses the correct answer, he or she begins the next round. If no one guesses correctly, the answer is revealed.

Packing Up Soups to Take Home

Ladle soup into quart-sized containers

Before the party wraps up, don’t forget the main event: Swapping soups! Have guests gather by the station you’ve set up with to-go containers and labels. If guests did not come with their own quart-size, freezer-friendly containers of soup, now’s the time to divvy it up equally in the extra containers you’ve provided. Everyone should leave with the same amount of soup—one quart from each guest—to take home and freeze or enjoy right away. Now’s a great time to pass out all of the printed recipes for everyone’s soups, as well.

What to Do After the Party

You did it—you successfully hosted a casual, cozy soup swap! In the days up to a week after the party, consider sending out a handwritten or emailed note of thanks to each guest. After all, they did take the time to make delicious soup for everyone, including you!

If you weren’t able to print out the recipes prior to the party, now is a good time to email or mail them to the group. This way, everyone can make more of their favorite soup from the swap—a true gift that keeps on giving.