Julie Peacock, RD, and other moms in her Lower East Side co-op were already in the habit of "dropping off extra granola when we made a big batch or bringing lasagna to celebrate a new baby." In 2011, as Peacock and friend Tina Carr watched their young kids play, they took that practice one step further, deciding to start a Soup Club. "We talked about wanting to help each other with meals so that maybe the day-in, day-out task of feeding our families wouldn't feel so overwhelming." That simple act of food-sharing has had legs, so much so that this year the club's four members — Peacock, Carr, Caroline Laskow and Courtney Allison — launched The Soup Club Cookbook, which has already been named by Amazon.com as one of the Best Books of 2015.
Tell us about the Soup Club and why it works.
Each week, one of us makes eight quarts of soup and delivers two quarts to each of the other three families. Creating this community has helped take some of the pressure off preparing home cooked meals every night of the week.
What about the cookbook?
There are over 150 recipes for soup, sides and other foods that share easily, as well as details on how to get your own soup club started and running smoothly. We don't label our soups or recipes as "healthy" or adhering to any nutritional guidelines, but we do promote eating locally, organically and sustainably when possible and, most importantly, caring about and enjoying the food that you make, eat and share.
Who can start a Soup Club?
Sharing and eating food that is prepared at home creates a deeper connection to our food, is generally healthier, and creates a community around food. It might be four singles who work together, four guys that play basketball together, four moms whose children go to school together, four couples in the same dance class … we hope that folks young and old, single and coupled, with kids and without, chefs and novice cooks would all benefit from intentionally sharing home-cooked food.
What do you personally find most rewarding about your efforts?
I learned from my mom that doubling a recipe so that it could be shared was just part of preparing food. Even though my mom was cooking from scratch daily for her family of six, she was often baking extra bread or roasting another chicken so that she could welcome a new family in the neighborhood or at church with a home-cooked meal. I discovered very early on the pleasure of cooking and sharing what I created with others. In the last few months, we have inspired and supported the start of eight other soup clubs across the country and hearing their stories has been especially rewarding.