Come Together Right Now, Over Soup!

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It’s officially the slow-down season. January is when social activity begins to fall off and rightfully so – we all need time to reflect and replenish ourselves. As winter drags on though the cold and darkness can sometimes feel isolating. To cheer yourself back up, round up a few friends and neighbors for a soup night party. Just like big fluffy socks and loose sweaters, there’s something about soup that speaks to coziness and comfort. Soup is generally healthy, inexpensive and fairly easy to make. It’s also easy to expand recipes for more servings. For all of those reasons and more, soup can be a wonderful way to reconnect with those you care about.

Savvy Soup Party Tips

Keep it potluck style: Call or email a few friends and explain the idea. Ask if they’d like to participate and bring something to the gathering. They could bring salad, good bread, snacks, wine, soup toppings or even more soup. Another fun idea is to ask guests to bring their own soup spoon and bowl.

Make it in advance: The last thing you want to have is soup day stress. Plan ahead and make your soup a few days in advance and reheat it the night of the party. This will make things much easier for you and soup always tastes better a couple of days after it was made.

Offer a couple of options: Whether it’s you whose making all of the soup or a couple different friends, be sure to consider your guests eating habits and offer at least two different soups for the evening.

Encourage Comfort: You could have some cozy slippers or fluffy socks on hand for guests as they enter but an easier way might be to encourage them to bring them along and to dress comfortably. Stretch-wear permitted. A soup night party isn’t for glamour and dazzle. A soup night party is about communion. It’s about catching up and reconnecting with friends.

Keep it fun: To keep the conversation flowing you might try any number of conversation games. You could also just make your own. Check out this website for tons of great questions. Print some off, clip them, and place in a basket. Pass the basket around the room having each guest select one and answer. Another idea might be to ask each guest to bring a book and have a book exchange. Have them all speak about the book they brought and why they enjoyed it.

When hosting a soup night party the most important thing to remember is to keep things stress free and simple. A snug night in with delicious and healthy food, great friends and fun conversation is guaranteed to refresh you and your guests with the resilience to continue on into the remaining days of winter.

This recipe for a hearty chicken and brown rice soup is simple to make and always a hit!

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup uncooked short grain brown rice, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp butter
2 bay leaves
½ tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
4 chicken thighs
12 cups chicken stock
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Add butter and oil to a large dutch oven and heat over medium. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper then add to pot and brown on both sides. Remove chicken and set aside. Add the onion, celery and carrots to the pot and cook till onion is translucent and vegetables are slightly cooked. Add in the rice and stir to combine. Add in the garlic and stir to combine. Place chicken and juices back in the pot. Add in the bay leaves, thyme and stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer until chicken is cooked through…about 35-40 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside to cool and continue cooking the soup. Once chicken is cool enough to touch, chop meat and add back into the pot. Discard skin and bones or save for stock. Continue cooking soup until the rice is tender. The longer you cook it, the more the rice will absorb the liquid so just add in additional stock as desired. Remove bay leaves and taste for additional seasoning prior to serving. This amount will serve 6.