CROCKPOTS BRIMMING WITH SOUPS and chili crammed the tables in a Waseca garage on a recent Saturday evening as my sister Lanae and her husband, Dale, hosted their annual Soup Party.
It is a rite of autumn, this gathering of family and friends to sample a soup smorgasbord. Each guest arrives with a crockpot of homemade soup or chili—this year 22 types ranging from Bourbon Chili to Chicken Fajita, Beer Cheese and many more tasty varieties.
You can always count on Teresa to bring a crock of Oyster Stew from across the street. And Monica, my other sister, never deviates from her Broccoli Cheese Soup. Kristi, a particularly creative cook, prepared savory Dill Pickle and Hungarian Mushroom Soups.
My middle brother arrived this year from southwestern Minnesota with Mystery Meat and Ham Soup. He challenged guests to name the mystery meat for a $10 prize. It was alligator.
Food traditions extend beyond the soups. Julie from next door always brings bread, although this year not as much given she’s battling cancer. My sister the hostess always buys a mega container of cheese balls and dumps them into an orange tub. Monica always brings Bloody Finger Cookies.
A talented floral designer, Lanae always decorates her home and yard with Halloween themed items—this year witches hats swaying from a tree, strategically placed pumpkins, Halloween signage and more.
In the backyard, my brother-in-law Dale builds and tends a campfire as guests retreat to talk and laugh and settle in after eating way too much soup and too many sweets.
It’s a memorable evening, an autumn tradition that connects family and friends through good food and conversation. Rarely have I missed Lanae and Dale’s Soup Party.
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling