There are certain "events" that seem perfectly designed for this climate -- especially this week, which looks to be the coldest of the winter. (Note my optimism in believing that we'll warm up from here on out.)


Time to do a Soup Swap, an idea born seven years ago in Seattle when a guy in Seattle -- Knox Gardner -- found himself in the familiar position of having made a big pot of delicious soup, yet growing tired of it by the third day.

(I know, I know -- these people have never heard of freezers?)

At any rate, not to get in the way of a good story, Gardner got the not-so-revolutionary idea to ask friends to bring their pots of soup to his place, where they would do a swap. Yup, think holiday cookie exchange, but instead of Mint Meltaways, it's minestrone.

As with most great ideas, it's not so much the idea as how you run with it. Gardner and friends christened their exchange Soup Swap and then in was just a matter of a website, Facebook page, Twitter account ---- and they were off! offers guidelines for success, such as giving everyone at least two weekends to make soup, or suggesting that swapping on a weeknight can offer the double bonus of keeping it from becoming a late night. Heh.

Here's a time to use some of that summer produce you carefully preserved. Here's a good excuse to clean the house and get the Christmas lights boxed up again. (And you know what to do with that poinsettia.)

Each person should make, and bring, six quarts of soup, a single kind or two kinds, depending on the recipe. When all the soups have arrived, draw numbers to determine the order in which you'll go around the room, choosing a soup, quart by quart.

Each chef should describe their soups, as well as note ingredients in case of allergies or simple dislikes -- although the savvy host will have communicated certain concerns with the invitation. Besides, you're all friends, right? Soon, the last quart will have been nabbed and everyone goes home with six different, comforting, delcious meals.

You can do a swap anytime, but as this Saturday, Jan. 26, is National Soup Swap Day -- as declared by the founders -- this may the time to get the wheels rolling on your own soup swap. Tip are on the website,, as well as the Facebook page.

After all, February may be the shortest month, but it's no walk in the park.