Spirits soar when people share soup

Join together: Chef Alex Davies clears up after serving his pumpkin soup in the Pallet Pavilion.
Join together: Chef Alex Davies clears up after serving his pumpkin soup in the Pallet Pavilion.

What's the best condiment for soup? Socialising.

That concept drove Christchurch artists Heather Hayward and Tessa Peach to launch Social Soup, to bring people together.

The idea took off during Gap Filler's Autumnal Social Soup fundraiser for the Pallet Pavilion Project, when more than 70 people gathered to eat pumpkin soup.

"It was something we did originally for Art Beat in conjunction with a group called The Social," Hayward says.

"There was a call out for artists to do work in the central city that was social in nature. Tessa and I thought the most social thing was sharing a large dinner, the more people the better."

But why soup?

"To have one pot that you are all eating from, that's a really nice image of coming together for a meal," Hayward said.

"It's the cheapest, most hearty, easy, portable and filling kind of thing we could think of, and it seems to suit the transitional city in terms of a meal.

"Along with soup, the breaking of bread together is such a nice aspect that goes along with it."

Hayward herself is a big fan of soup, particularly during the colder months.

"I see it as one of the comforts of winter. I kind of make a list of things I'm looking forward to, and sharing soup with friends is one of them, along with hot water bottles and big, fluffy duvets."

Her favourite soup is leek and potato with a bit of cream.

They held the first Social Soup event last year at Re:Start Mall, and since then, people have been approaching them to hold more.

Hayward and Peach are happy to oblige. Every social soup event had a different chef and they all had their own take on it, Hayward said.

"Everyone has their own soup recipe. I hope more people will go out and make their own soup and share it."

For the fundraiser, chef Alex Davies, who works on the charity's local food project, prepared tureens of pumpkin soup.

Work for the meal started a week before the actual event. Everything at the dinner, down to the flour, was sourced locally, and the vegetables were all donated by Cam and Mel Booker at Grown in Sefton.

The seasons and availability of ingredients, as well as his own mood, influence Davies' recipes, and he had no favourite.

Several condiments to enhance the soup, including walnuts, Davies' own chilli salt, parsley oil and ricotta, were provided because it would make the meal more interactive.

"People will say to one another, 'Have you tried adding this?' It creates more interaction," he said.

The Press