We hosted a Lenten Soup Supper for the teens on Friday night, and it was a real success. The event was planned weeks ago with an email invitation setting out the itinerary for the evening:
5 o'clock: gather
6 o'clock: bread and soup
7 to 10 o'clock: social time
10 o'clock: Divine Mercy Chaplet
10:30: pick up
I was planning on making at least half of the soups myself, but a last minute decision to go skiing the day before caused me to lose a shopping and cooking day. A wonderful, local, Italian market and caterer picked up the slack, bringing over delicious soups at reasonable prices and even letting me borrow their pots. A dear friend made a pot of Lentil soup and brought Kerry Gold butter. I stopped by the farm stand for bread on the morning of the supper and mentioned how much we would love hot cross muffins. An hour and a half later, they called to say that four dozen muffins were coming out of the oven just for us. Small, local businesses are truly the best.
It was Friday, so all the soups were meatless.
New England Clam Chowder
Potato Leek Soup (gf)
Mushroom Barley Soup (df)
Tuscan Bean and Kale Soup (gfdf)
Lentil Soup (gfdf)
Hot Cross Muffins
Pumpkin Muffins (gfdf)
I can't tell you what a happy and blessed evening this was. It was the perfect way to gather as a group without forgetting the significance of Lent.
Here are a few tips for hosting a Lenten Soup Supper:
- Ask friends to make the soup. One of my closest friends offered the Lentil Soup, but I did not ask anyone else to bring soup (even though everyone was asking what they might bring). If we do this again next year, I will probably ask for four or five of the mothers to send a pot of their favorite meatless soup. I would make a pot of Vegetable Chili myself and put some Broccoli Cheddar Soup in the crockpot. This would give plenty of options without too much work.
- Begin and end with with prayer, and stick to your plan. It was beautiful praying the Rosary with the teens and ending with the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Having the plan in place kept the evening moving, assured a timely dinner, and kept us focused on the season of Lent. Even though it was freezing out, by 10 o'clock the teens were everywhere--in the basement, on the back deck, all over the property. Gathering to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet was the perfect way to get everyone back for a bit of calm before their parents arrived to pick them up.
- Consider the gluten and dairy free. In our group, a good many of the teens avoid either gluten, dairy, or both. We were glad to have a number of soups on hand for them to choose.
- Include the Stations of the Cross. This was not something we managed last night, but the Stations of the Cross would have been a perfect addition to our plan. We may try doing something like this next year.
- Ask friends to send spring water. I wrote an appeal for water to the group at the last minute, fearing we might not have enough, and it it was generously provided.
- Use paper goods. Disposable bowls, napkins, and spoons helped make tidying up manageable.
- Collect meatless soup recipes. When I set out to plan the menu, I realized that most of the soups I make on a regular basis contain meat or at least chicken broth. From now on, I will keep an eye out for really good meatless soups to try for a soup supper next year.
- Ask a couple of mothers to stay. I had not really even thought of needing other mothers on hand, but three or four friends stayed and gave so much help and support that I realized later that the whole evening would have been next to impossible without them. They helped slice bread, serve soup, and washed tons of dishes.
- Borrow ladles. I didn't think we needed any, but even with the five or six ladles I own, a couple more would have been handy.
- Plan exactly how to serve. If you have a lot of young people coming, it helps to have a plan in place for how the soup is being served. I wish I had given a bit more advance thought to logistics, but it all worked out well with two or three of the mothers serving near the stove and bread, bowls, napkins and spoons arranged on the kitchen island. We posted a menu and labeled each of the soups to avoid confusion. We realized right away that the flimsy paper disposable bowls would need something beneath to support them, so we gave each of the kids a dinner plate to balance their bowl and bread. We did not have special tables and chairs set up--everyone ate wherever they could find a place to sit. I am happy to say no soup was spilled!Here is a group photo taken at the very end of the evening after at least a third of our guests had left. I have a feeling this will be a new tradition!