I was a new kid on the Soup Maker Committee at church. This year, instead of a holiday fair with people, we invited people to order soups, pies and cookies online, and then pick up their choices on an appointed day. I committed to making a soup. We had a total of 11 requests for it.

While preparing to make and sell fresh soup for a church holiday fair, Jody Rich has found the definition of “fresh” to be hard to pin down. Photo courtesy of Jody Rich

That was 11 pints.

That was just about a gallon and a half.

One batch made a half-gallon. (Have you noticed, for soups, the recipe says, “Serves four”? Four what? Cups? Pints? )

That is a fair amount of peeling, cutting and chopping.

I wished I’d had a veteran member of this committee to mentor me.

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Could I have asked? Yes.

I’m Jody Rich, and I am not comfortable asking.

So, is it OK to make the soup ahead and freeze it, then defrost and portion it out into the containers? Or do I make all three batches in one day so the soup is as fresh as possible?

What if I cut up the individual ingredients and froze those ahead of time? Think butternut squash, let’s just pick that as an example, from thin air. And let’s just imagine that each batch requires four apples, peeled, cored and chopped up, too.

My dilemma here was that I wanted to do this correctly and in the intentions of what the fair coordinators expect. Now, I’m 65, and that is considered young for some in our church. Are the elderly veterans of this work of the church doing all their making in one day? Is that a reasonable expectation? Are the other soup makers 40 years old?

Do I have a failure to communicate? Am I simply not asking questions? Is there a trifold brochure of procedures and expectations? A rubric to self-measure how I’ve done in this process? Am I just overthinking this whole thing? As a reader, are you screaming your solution to my dilemma?

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It keeps me up at night. (Sigh.)

I mean, this was the work of the church. My soup represents the spirit of the church, right? Is frozen and defrosted soup still considered fresh?

Would it be authentic only if I peel, chop, saute, reduce, boil and simmer all in one day? It has been wearing on me, off and on all week. Rosemary, friends and sisters have weighed in. They’re all over the place. I’ve heard from what I call the purists, who believe that only by suffering for a full day will I be doing the work of the faith. Others say, “Mix the defrosted batch in with the two fresher-made batches because no one will know. It’s soup!” One said that she would head to Hannaford and buy a bunch of canned soup and call it good.

One more thing, hypothetically, if the recipe calls for four apples per batch and I have seven apples, do I absolutely need to run to the store or order on Instacart for one blessed apple?

 

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