For more years than I can recall, or at least five, I have made the soup for our church women’s bazaar luncheon. Soup has been a traditional mainstay on the luncheon menu, and the soup maker has the privilege of deciding the kind of soup to cook.
At first it was a worrisome challenge for a novice who had never made soup for a crowd, but feeling I couldn’t bypass a new learning experience, accepted the request to do it. If the chairman thought I could do it, by golly I would try!
I perused cookbooks and the internet for ideas about making soup for a crowd, and of course there were only two choices: meat or meatless.
I made hamburger based soups with lots of vegetables the first time, and anticipating a large number of customers cooked four large vats that held about 3 gallons of soup(I may be overestimating the size) apiece. Included were ten pounds of potatoes, five pounds of baby carrots, two pounds of frozen green beans, a gallon each of cut tomatoes and kidney beans, half gallon of tomato sauce, and a bunch of celery, eight cans of chicken broth and a big onion for each pot. To call it “minestrone” I added a pound of pasta to each pot as well. The result was soup that was thick and more stew-like than soupy. But there were compliments the soup was “really good,” boosting my ego that I had succeeded in a new venture. So I agreed to continue again.
The next year there was a request I cook both meat and vegetarian soups, but to make both kinds was not feasible nor profitable as meat prices rose, so hamburger was eliminated.
Prepping the vegetables by myself took long and to make the soup less thick, I eliminated the potatoes, reduced the amount celery and pasta, but added some minced parsley to add to the flavor, and added water as well as chicken broth.
However, during the last two years, three men donated crock pots of chili and the vegetarian soup could not compete with it. Last year three pots were made and only one and one half sold; the rest were sold at reduced prices for customers to take home in quart jars. They said they were “delighted to enjoy homemade soup” without putting in the time to make it.
I suggested soup be eliminated from the menu, but luncheon committee members urged me to continue making some, so made two pots this year and only sold one, the leftovers again sold as before.
I am thinking next year soup be entirely eliminated if chili is again offered, or cook only a half pot of it as it is foolhardy to make it at a loss or just to break even.
Traditions die hard,but the marketplace rules and soup making has perhaps outlived its place in our luncheon plans.
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