How to Host a Soup Swap

By blog team member, Kiran. To learn more about Kiran, check out our team page!

Chances are you’ve heard of this fantastic newish way for foodies (and those just looking to get together with the gals – or guys!) to connect; it’s called a Soup Swap. It’s a wonderful excuse to hang out with good friends, make some new ones, or even get to know some of your neighbors. Oh, and I almost forgot – you also get to try lots of great new soups and you get to stock them in your freezer. Can we say win-win?!

how to host a soup swap

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Some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Planning is key.
    It’s not like a cookie exchange where you can spend an hour or two baking before you leave. For the soup swap, you’ll need to provide your guests with ample time to create the goods. A two- to three-week notice should provide plenty of prep time.
  • Set some guidelines.
    Each attendee is to bring a set amount of one type of soup in separate containers. I asked my guests to bring six containers, each with 1 quart of their soup. (Please note that many recipes will have to be doubled or even tripled to get to this quantity.) Soups should be cold or frozen when they arrive.
  • Suggest containers.
    Now lets talk about the containers themselves. Some may find it easiest to put their soup stash in freezer-safe large Ziploc bags. Jars are, of course, all the rage these days; just make sure to leave some room at the top for expansion of the soup when it freezes. I got these ADORABLE jars for the occasion, and I’ll have to get more since I fell in love with them – so pretty! Update: Be sure to follow Weck’s recommendations if freezing. These Ball widemouth jars are another freezer safe option.
  • Label your goodies.
    My fabulous designer friend was kind enough to put a whole party package together for you to download* – free! Find invitations and soup labels (as pictured in the image above). Did I mention they are super cute to boot?!
    *Be sure to use Avery Template 8383 for the Postcards (or print them on card stock) and Avery Template 22830 for the 2 1/2″ Round Labels.
  • Print and share.
    Have everyone bring a copy of their recipe along with their soup selection. This alleviates any worries regarding allergies and such, and also lets them cook up the same concoction in the future if they (hopefully!) like it.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to soup choices, though some may freeze better than others. For example, if your soup includes a pasta, you may want to not include it in your recipe and simply mention this on the side. Vegetarians should be aware that they may end up with some soups that they can give away to others, and those who have family members with allergies may want to double-check ingredients used – again, a good reason to include the recipes.

How to host a #soupswap on 100 Days of #RealFood

How to plan one of your own:

  1. Determine a date and invite your group.
    Printed invites are always pretty (remember free download above), and of course there are always the evites or even a simple email to your girls. Weeknights always give you a chance to break away from the ordinary, but weekend (or even weekday) afternoons also work just as well.
  2. Plan for some snacks and munchies.
    Put on a pot of chili or a soup to serve in keeping with the theme; other appetizers and finger foods are always a good thing to also have on hand as well.
  3. Include some buffer.
    Though your guests may not arrive at the same time, the “swapping” is somewhat of an organized event. Plan a half or full hour on the front end for socializing, wine drinking or whatever fits your fancy for the beginning of your party. Let your attendees know that the swapping will start at a designated time.
  4. Introduce each soup.
    When it’s time to begin, each guest gets to tell a bit about her offering. This includes where the recipe is from and what ingredients are in it. Maybe it’s a family favorite or one you’ve been making for years. Be sure to share this with the crowd!
  5. Time to swap!
    Next, each guest picks a number. The number indicates what order you may begin selecting soups, assuming there are not enough containers for everyone. If you have 6 people in attendance and everyone brought 6 quarts, you can obviously skip this step. Assuming this is not the case, No. 1 picks the first, No. 2 picks next, and so on. This is repeated until all soup is gone. I actually was a bit hesitant with this method, worrying that someone’s soup may not get selected. But honestly, if I had 3 quarts left of the soup that I made myself, I really would have no issues with it. Hey, I’m just happy to have food on hand in my house – with a family of 6, it’s a never-ending battle! That’s my opinion, though.
  6. In the end.
    Everyone should leave with the same number of containers – but it will be a variety of bisques, gumbos, potages or bouillabaisses to try. Fun, right?!

Here are some of the soups that my guests brought to my party:#soupswap on 100 Days of #RealFood

Black Bean Slow Cooker Soup

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

Turkey, Kale and Brown Rice Soup

Hunters Minestrone

Chicken Taco Soup

Another brought Butternut Squash Soup, but it was a personal recipe so I don’t have a link to share, unfortunately.

I made a yummy carrot soup from our friends at Simple Green Smoothies. I must say that I had a really tough time deciding on what to make, but I wanted my guests to try something different. My event was mid-day and I served Chili, a Chopped Salad and Whole Wheat Rolls.

My Take

This is definitely a fun event for foodies of all stages. I will say that in creating my invite list, I honestly didn’t even consider inviting those who (don’t like to cook) and would think this would be a chore. What fun would that be for them anyway?! I also think this would be a fun event to host a few times a year (maybe once every 6 weeks during colder months??), to see what different recipes could be discovered and tried. We didn’t try any of the soups at our party, but I think that could be a fun addition, too. I thought it was neat to see what soups my guests selected, and I also was turned on to new recipes which I may not have come across otherwise. Something I always appreciate!

Below I’ve included a few more soup recipes for inspiration for you, but I also want to hear from you since there are lots of ways to host a soup swap. What has worked for you? What hasn’t? Want to share a favorite soup recipe in the comments section? We’d love to see it! And if you are inspired by this post and end up hosting one – please share the outcome in the comments below and/or with some photos on Facebook or Instagram! Happy souping:).

Homemade Minestrone

Creamy Chicken, Vegetable and Tomato Soup

Peanut Squash Soup

Slow Cooker Potato Soup (page 276 in Lisa’s cookbook)

#soupswap on 100 Days of #RealFood

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37 thoughts on “How to Host a Soup Swap”

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  1. Have you ever tried this with guests bringing soup in a crock pot to try during the swap and then taking home what they like in jars? Planning my first one and think it would be fun to try that day.

  2. You should give credit where credit is due. Knox Gardner started this movement in the late ’90’s and ushered soup swap into the mainstream in 2005. It’s been around a lot longer than you think. is an excellent resource. You can also join the soup swap page on Facebook. National soup swap day is Jan 24th!

  3. What a great idea and the free download is wonderful, but perhaps your friend could fix the error on the download. The phrase is “soup du jour,” not “soup de jour.”

  4. Yes to picking numbers when it comes time to swap. But I recommend that everyone tosses their numbers in the hat at the end of a round and gets to pick a new number for the next round. It makes it fair and fun – the last person shouldn’t have the last choice throughout the whole swap.

  5. What a wonderful idea! And since I’m loving a few of your soup recipes what a wonderful way to share them with others that maybe haven’t had the chance to make them yet. Thanks! Soup swap…then cookie exchange.

  6. We’ve decided to do this but from a dinner swap standpoint, meaning you cook a freezer safe dish bring a portion (frozen or cold) made for 2 and then we swap. Still working out the details of how to do the swap but I like your Yankee swap method! This way we can have more than the number of people!

  7. Love this idea but wondering about the time the soups are sitting outside the fridge….If you don’t have enough fridge space, what do you do while socializing? Coolers?

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Coolers would certainly work – and as this would probably be more of a “colder time” event, perhaps even having them outside (in a box or something) would also work. Just a thought!

  8. This sounds like such a fun idea! Not sure if I’d actually host one, since (a) I don’t know that many friends in my area who’d actually be interested in attending one, and (b) I’m a vegetarian, and most of my friends here who cook are not, and it’d be a bit of a bummer to me if I couldn’t eat the other soups. But I am definitely going to file this idea away, and maybe try it eventually!

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      FWIW, I also am mostly vegetarian (I eat eggs and fish) but my husband is not. So I made a veg soup but welcomed those who did not cook veg versions as they were perfect for my hubs and a couple of my kids. Not sure if that would apply to your family?

    1. That’s a great question, Anna. My friends know that we eat “real” foods and I am sure that they had this in mind … but with that being said, I didn’t set any guidelines at all aside from quantity to bring. I am always open to new recipes. And if they ended up including ingredients that we normally don’t eat, we can make an exception and look to alter the recipe in the future (if we liked it) to include more “real” ingredients. HTH!

  9. I am a homemade foods freezer junkie! I appreciate how the writers here have a close relationship with their freezers :) I have done the soup swap thing numerous times and love it, especially as a parent who is always looking for new and creative ways to have homemade meals ready on those tough days or just to change up the meal routine. Often times I organize a casual swap with a couple family members or close friends. Sometimes it is a swap and others just me handing out jars of soup or sauce to them, a pay-it-forward trade of sorts. Other common things I make and freeze are uncooked meatballs (I dislike cooked, frozen meat), cookie dough, bread dough, veggies from the garden, marinara sauce, pesto…the list goes on. Freeze on and trade often! FYI: There are other great ways to swap like trade skills, used toys, used books, clothes, etc. We try to organize and participate in these as well.

  10. Lisa,

    I assume you didn’t freeze your soup in the beautiful Weck jars? When I looked at the website, it doesn’t appear that you should use them for freezing. Did you waterbath your soup?

    Just curious as these are beautiful jars and I would like to use them.


    1. Right, you can’t freeze in the weck jars using the clips. I tried it and the jars break. I talked to weck about it and you need to use their special plastic lids for freezing. The clip lids are too airtight and when the liquid expands the glass breaks.

  11. Fun idea! I have to say that as much as I dislike having plastic food containers, I find that my jars inevitably crack in the freezer even when there’s plenty of headspace, so I only use ziploc bags now.

  12. A soup exchange is such a good idea! I’ve done cookie and dinner exchanges before, but not soups. My favorite soup to make this winter has been butternut squash.

  13. Great idea, but a warning on any soups made with potatoes. Potatoes, especially if diced, do not freeze well at all. They develop an off flavor and terrible texture after frozen.

    1. Lisa – I just want to share that I freeze potato soup ALL the time and am always very happy with the outcome. I haven’t noticed any difference with the the flavor or texture.

      1. Hi Lisa…I haven’t picked up your book yet. I was curious what variety of potato you use in your potato soup recipe? I have a vegetable beef soup that I make and I have noticed a slight change in taste/texture on the russet potatoes I use if I freeze the soup. It is still yummy, but I actually prefer it fresh. Thanks!

  14. This sounds like an awesome idea…I have bookmarked it for the future as I think our soup weather might be over soon. I have another question…do you have a good substitute recipe to replace crescent rolls? There are so many cute recipes that use these, but I like to make my own bread rather than buy “chemicals’ in a can. However, I have yet to find a recipe that comes close to crescent rolls. Any help would be appreciated.