Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A rite of autumn in southern Minnesota: My sister’s soup party October 19, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Soup, 15 crocks of


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.


Soup, 42 crock close-ups


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.


Soup, 24 crocks 2


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.


All soups are labeled.

All soups are labeled.


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.


Soup, 17 bread


Soup, 21 cheese balls


Soup, 19 Bloody Finger Cookies


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.


Soup, 53 smell my feet sign


A sarcastic message chalked on a board in the garage.

A sarcastic message chalked on a board in the garage.


Soup, 57 hat swaying in tree


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.

Vintage metal trays hold soup samples scooped into Styrofoam cups.

Everything is ready. Vintage metal trays will hold soup samples scooped into Styrofoam cups.

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.

As the sun sets in southern Minnesota, guests gather on the driveway and in the garage to sample soups and chili.

As the sun sets in southern Minnesota, guests gather on the driveway and in the garage to sample soups and chili.

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


37 Responses to “A rite of autumn in southern Minnesota: My sister’s soup party”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Oh, oh, oh………I have some chili that would fit right in…..is there room?????? What a totally FUN event (you shared a bit on last Friday, too) that brings ppl together in such a relaxed/time-suspended coming together. A treasure!!

  2. Almost Iowa Says:

    It was wise of you middle brother to label his contribution as “Mystery Meat and Ham Soup”. It sounds so much more appetizing than alligator. 🙂

  3. Aaron Says:

    I think it’d be fun to have a board of “judges” to twist and score the soups, and have a wining soup champion for the year

  4. Dan Traun Says:

    22 different types of soups. Wow, that is amazing and no doubt very tasty. The bloody finger cookies are hilarious.

  5. Nothing like the change in weather to bring out a variety of hearty soups.

  6. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    What a wonderful tradition! That looks like so much fun. I’ve got to do something like this with my friends. They would love it. I’m always looking for an excuse to have a party.

  7. Lanae Says:

    Dale and I love having our annual soup party. The reason we don’t judge is I don’t want to hurt any ones feelings. My favorite was the Hungarian mushroom, someone else said it was their least favorite. Most enjoyed the beer cheese, as my brother said “who wouldn’t love it with two great items in it–beer and cheese”
    Getting ready for the party is a lot of work, I even take Friday off to get ready. My great niece Arianna was thrilled when Grandma said she could come to the soup party. Now if you really want to have some fun come to Lamberton to help with horseradish making this Saturday. You can have a free whiff!!

    • For some reason, I missed the beer cheese soup. But I tried the mushroom and loved it. Remember the year I brought my apple-potato soup? Not your favorite, I know. I still like that soup.

      Thanks for hosting, sister! We always look forward to your and Dale’s soup party.

  8. What a wonderful time! I love soup. And nice that the weather was good enough to be outside! That was a LOT of soup!

  9. Jackie Says:

    This is such a great idea, I love soups so It would be right down my ally. Did you try the alligator soup, I am not that adventurous. I would have passed, not knowing what the meat was. Sounds like you had a wonderful time with family!

  10. What Fun To Be Had and Great Eats too – YUM! Happy Week – Enjoy 🙂

  11. Beth Ann Says:

    I love this idea and all those soups look and sound amazing. Yum. It is definitely getting to be soup weather now and this event is one I know you look forward to every year. 🙂

  12. Oh, how I love soup and chili too.. Wish I was there looks like a great time.

  13. Sue Ready Says:

    I love this autumn soup idea.What soup was your addition to the party?

  14. hotlyspiced Says:

    What a great party. I have never seen so many crock pots! And so many varieties of soup! I’ve never ever had alligator! I’m quite sure we can’t buy alligator anything in this part of the world. But as for crocodile – that’s another story! This halloween celebration looks like a lot of fun and I’m sure every year everyone looks forward to it xx

    • Yes, we definitely look forward to Lanae and Dale’s soup party. Fun and great food and conversation.

      My brother had the alligator shipped from somewhere down South. I’m pretty sure it’s not available in rural Minnesota where he lives.

  15. Thread crazy Says:

    We are still waiting on some of that cool Minnesota weather to come our way. When it does, yes a big bowl of soup or chili will definitely be on the menu.

  16. Littlesundog Says:

    What a great event!! I am not a Halloween person but I found those bloody finger cookies a real delight! Ha ha!

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