Here's how it worked:
I handed out half-page flyers to my neighbors while trick-or-treating. This worked really well because I don't know all my neighbors and this way, they expected to hear the doorbell ring. The Swap was scheduled approximately two weeks after Halloween to give people plenty of time to shop for, cook, and freeze their soups.
The rules were simple and spelled out on the invitation.
- Bring 6 quarts of soup
- Soup should be packaged in six individual one-quart containers
- Soup should be frozen
- You will go home with 6 quarts of different soups!
At 7 pm, we began the "Telling of the Soup." We went around the room and each cook got a turn to tell the name of their soup(s), what's in it, anything special about it, or anything else they wanted to say about their soup(s).
Then we drew numbers to determine the order in which we would "swap". The person who drew number 1 got to select one quart of soup. The person who cooked the soup the first person selected won a small prize (seasoning sample pack). Then number 2 got to go, and so on. We did this for three rounds. For rounds four through six, we started with the highest number and worked our way back down to 1 to make it a little more fair.
Of course, there had to be a last soup chosen and the last quart of soup remaining went to the person who originally got to choose first. And the maker of that last soup was awarded a small prize as well (a set of wooden spoons).
After all the soup was divided up, there was no more "official business" to conduct. Everyone was free to stay and chit chat and enjoy the little snacks I provided. But it didn't last long; there were frozen soups to get back home and even in November, you don't want them out of the freezer too long!
Shortly after I got the idea to exchange soup with my neighbors, I came across this website. It has lots of great information and I used most, if not all, of their technical suggestions about how to conduct a Swap, right down to the prizes for the makers of the first and last soups swapped!
Some questions and answers:
How much is a quart? Seriously, this is the question I got more than any other. A quart is 4 cups, people!
Do I have to bring 6 quarts of the same soup? Technically, the answer is no. The requirement is that you bring 6 quarts total; they do not have to be the same.
Will I go home with a quart of every soup that is brought? That depends. If only six people come, then yes. If eight people come to swap, you still only get to take home 6 quarts so that will leave two soups you won't get to try. If four people come, you will go home with some doubles and that's OK, too! Such is the inherent risk in a soup swap.
Can I bring an extra six quarts to swap for my big family? Each host can chose her own answer to this question. I was asked this, and decided to allow it, although the person who wanted to do that ended up not showing up at all. If she had come, I would have played with the lottery numbers a bit and made sure that one of her numbers was the last one, all the way through, to make things a little more fair.
Can I bring my own six quarts and another person's six quarts and proxy for someone who is unable to make it? This didn't actually happen to me, but I anticipated it nonetheless. Similar to the previous question, I would have allowed it, but I would have rigged the lottery numbers so that the proxy would have chosen last each round. You have to be present to get the best chances of getting what you want!
Do I have to make my own soup? Well, yes, to a degree. Be reasonable. Is your mom a much better cook than you and you can convince her to make your soup for you? Go for it! Are you opening up a can of Campbell's or a bag of previously frozen soup from a warehouse store? No, I don't think that's fair. It's not that you have to grow your own veggies (but it's awesome if you do!). I have a recipe that's basically three cans of soups and sauces mixed together with a bit of diced chicken and heated. If I thought it would freeze well, I would even consider swapping it. Most people put a lot of thought and time into their cooking and it's only fair that the soup they receive in return has just as much love stirred in (how's that for cheezy?)! And just to be clear, I'm not accusing anyone who came to the first Soup Swap of cheating. But it was a question I received while telling everyone I knew about the Swap so I thought I'd include it here along with my personal thoughts on the matter.