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Soup Night

Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup

by Maggie Stuckey

the good life lab
Soup Night
Bring something to share! Soup nights build strong community ties and let you enjoy delicious, stress-free meals around your block, season-to-season.

Left to right: Edamame Corn Chowder, Asparagus Leek Chowder, Chilled Cucumber Soup with Shrimp, arriving with salad, and a selection of soups. All photography © Lara Ferroni, except second from right, by Mars Vilaubi.

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Welcome: A Letter from Maggie

“Just bring a bowl, and a spoon, and an open heart.”

Welcome to Soup Night!

Imagine this scene: You answer a knock on the door one evening to find a woman who seems familiar. “Hello,” she says, smiling. “My name is Karen, from down the block. I’m hosting a neighborhood soup night next Sunday at my house, and I hope you and your family can come. Just bring a bowl and a spoon.”

Should you go? Yes! You’ll have a wonderful time, and no doubt you’ll have some delicious soup, but that’s only the beginning. After a while, you will notice that a few things have changed. Now when you see neighbors on the sidewalk, you do more than wave. You actually stop and visit, because you know something about them. Seniors and people living alone feel more secure, because they know help is all around them. No one feels isolated or lonely. Your neighborhood is safer, because everyone keeps a friendly eye out. Perhaps best of all, your children get to know all the adults in the neighborhood, and vice versa, bringing many positive benefits. With the loving support of a wide network of adults, children do better in school. They learn not to be afraid of people whose skin is a different color. You don’t have to worry when they play outside, because lots of people are watching out for them. Growing up in this “village,” children thrive in countless wonderful ways.

This is not an abstract portrait. Most of these benefits have been scientifically researched and validated. I have seen it for myself, with a Soup Night in my hometown. And I have talked with groups all over the country who enjoy some type of soup-themed event, and they all say the same thing: It has made our neighborhood a real community, and what a special thing that is. Stories about these groups fill the pages of this book, and many of the participants generously shared their favorite soup recipes and their tips for organizing a soup night.

So if “Karen” from your neighborhood doesn’t come calling, maybe you’ll be inspired to start a soup night tradition yourself. But if she does, by all means, say yes. Just bring a bowl, and a spoon, and an open heart.

Warm regards, Maggie


“A delicious recipe for a new way of building community.”

Billy Shore, Share Our Strength

“I want to start a soup night in my neighborhood and, thanks to this book, the strategies as well as delicious-sounding recipes are all laid out for me. Now I just have to decide whether to start with Tortilla Turkey Soup or Red Bean and Red Pepper Soup or. . .”

Brooke Dojny, author of Lobster!, The New England Clam Shack Cookbook and Dishing Up® Maine

“Maggie Stuckey lovingly — and deliciously — relays the story of a single street’s neighborly tradition of gathering over bowls of hearty soup. Soup Night will warm your heart and your stomach.”

Caroline Wright, author Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals

“An innovative way to reweave the fabric of community that today’s children and families desperately need — block by block, bowl by bowl.”

Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund


The Book

  • Soup Night
  • Maggie Stuckey

Art and Photography


Soup brings people together. And when neighbors share, they get to know each other in new and wonderful ways. In this cookbook with a special personality, Maggie Stuckey not only shares 99 recipes for soup, and 40 more recipes for accompaniments, most contributed by the groups profiled in the book, but explains how readers can start their own neighborhood soup nights. The book profiles soup nights established in a variety of locations, including urban centers, churches, and community centers, and offers cooking tips and soup night organizational hints.



  • 304 pages
  • Full color
  • Smyth sewn binding
  • $19.95


  • Kindle and ePub 2
  • High resolution color images
  • Enhanced for modern reading devices
  • $12.95
soup night
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Maggie Stuckey


Maggie Stuckey is a writer who grows vegetables and cooks up a storm in her Portland, Oregon, home. The author of The Bountiful Container and seven other books on gardening and horticulture, she is happiest when tending her vegetable garden and using the outcome to create new soups.

Media Requests

Contact Matt LaBombard at


Catch Maggie on the road for a soup night in your neck of the woods.

Portland, OR

  • October 27, 2013, 2PM
  • Powells/Pastaworks
  • 3735 SE Hawthorne

Portland, OR

  • October 30, 2013, 7PM
  • Broadway Books
  • 1714 NE Broadway

Ocean Park, WA

  • November 1, 2013, 2–4PM
  • Adelaide’s Books
  • Bay Ave

Ilwaco, WA

  • November 2, 2013, 1–3PM
  • Time Enough Books
  • The Port

North Adams, MA

  • November 7, 2013
  • Soup Night at Storey!
  • 210 Mass MoCA Way

Portland, OR

  • November 9, 2013
  • Costco
  • 4849 NE 138th Ave

Portland, OR

  • November 14, 2013, 6:30–8PM
  • Baker & Spice
  • 6306 SW Capital Highway

Schools Ferry, OR

  • November 23, 2013, noon–2PM
  • Kitchen Kaboodle
  • 8788 SW Hall Blvd

Seaside, OR

  • December 3, 2013, noon–2PM
  • Beach Books ($7 lunch)
  • 616 Broadway

Portland, OR

  • December 4, 2013, 6–8PM
  • Kitchen Kaboodle
  • 1520 NE 16th Ave

Seattle, WA

  • February 9, 2014
  • Phinney Neighborhood Center
  • 6532 Phinney Ave N


A community of creative individuals made Soup Night what it is. Visit their websites and learn more about what they do.

Photography and Illustration



Go beyond the book with these Soup Night extras.



Get inspired by others, or share images of your own soup night at Storey’s Soup Night Pinterest board.



Download the colorful Soup Night infographic to learn more about what’s inside the book. (248 KB | JPG)



Sweet Corn Chowder © Lara Ferroni from Soup Night

Sweet Corn Chowder

Recipe from Elizabeth Newland, Civano Soup Supper, Tucson, Arizona

Serves 4–6

Elizabeth says: Always a potluck favorite . . . tasty and no strange ingredient surprises!


  • 5 bacon strips, diced
  • 1 small leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme or winter savory, or 12 teaspoon dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen (preferably fresh)


  1. 1. Brown the bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
  2. 2. Add the leek, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste to the pot and sauté until the leek is softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. 3. Stir in the potatoes, milk, and cream, and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Simmer (do not boil) until the potatoes are tender.
  4. 4. Add the corn and continue to simmer until the corn is tender, about 4 minutes for fresh or 7 minutes for frozen.
  5. 5. Serve hot.

Variations: Elizabeth suggests, “This soup can be dressed up by adding mushrooms or shrimp.” When the corn is tender, stir 12 cup sautéed mushrooms or 1 cup cooked shrimp into the soup, bring up to heat, and serve.

Make ahead? Prepare through step 3, but remove from the heat just before the potatoes are completely cooked. Refrigerate. Rewarm at serving time, simmering until the potatoes are totally tender.

For large crowds: This recipe is easily doubled or tripled. To economize, use chopped parsley or chives as garnish in place of the shrimp.


Taco Soup © Lara Ferroni from Soup Night

Taco Soup

Serves 6–8

There are lots of versions of taco soup floating around in cyberspace, and I’m sure they’re all good, but this one, the creation of my book-group buddy Marilyn Katz, is extremely easy, delicious, and — thanks to using four different types of beans — very colorful.


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen corn
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 packets taco seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans beef broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Tortilla chips, lightly crushed
  • Sliced scallions
  • Sliced black olives


  1. 1.Brown the ground beef in a large soup pot over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked; drain away any fat.
  2. 2.Add the tomatoes, all the beans, the corn, celery, onions, taco seasoning, garlic powder, chili powder, and broth, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. 3.Set out the garnishes in bowls, and serve the soup hot.

Make ahead? Sure. It improves with age.

For large crowds: Easy to multiply, and not expensive.

For vegetarians: Leave out the meat. It won’t be authentically taco-like, but still good.


Asparagus-Leek Chowder © Lara Ferroni from Soup Night

Asparagus-Leek Chowder

Recipe from Albertina’s Restaurant, Portland, Oregon

Serves 6–8

Chowders don’t necessarily have to include clams; this delicious version takes good advantage of two springtime treats: asparagus and leeks.


  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 12 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large leeks, trimmed and sliced
  • 34 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 18 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 (12-ounce) can white whole-kernel corn, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimientos


  1. 1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over low heat. Add the mushrooms, leeks, and asparagus and cook until almost tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. 2. Sprinkle the flour, salt, and pepper evenly over all the vegetables; sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. 3. Add the chicken broth gradually, stirring to prevent lumps, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the half-and-half and heat, stirring constantly, until the soup is hot and bubbly.
  4. 4. Stir in the corn and pimientos and heat through, being careful not to boil. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed, and serve hot.

Make ahead? Yes; when reheating, be careful not to let soup boil.

For large crowds: Go ahead and splurge — asparagus season is short.

For vegetarians: Use vegetable broth rather than chicken.

Dealing with Leeks

This member of the onion family, which looks a gigantic scallion, has a mild, almost soft taste that beautifully complements many dishes; it’s especially nice with potatoes and asparagus.

Because of the way they grow underground, leeks often have sand or dirt trapped between the layers, and if you simply slice the whole leek horizontally into rounds (which seems the natural thing to do), the sand will still be there.

There is an easier way to deal with this: First cut the entire leek into two big pieces, right where the green leaves start. Discard most of the green leaves; they’re usually rather tough, especially the nearer you get to the tops. But keep a bit of the lowest edge of the leaves (nearest where you cut), because they have a nice color when cooked. Cut the white part lengthwise into halves (even quarters, if the leek is very fat), and swish them vigorously in a large bowl of water. You may need to do this more than once. Now drain, and proceed to chop, dice, or cut the leeks however you need for your recipe.

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