The past 8 weeks I hosted my first ever Soup Sunday Challenge. I am not sure what propelled me to launch a Soup Sunday Challenge on top of my full time job, 2 young kids and busy life, but deep in the wave of Omicron, and over the Christmas holidays, I felt inspired. We were looking to eat better and thought, "I already have lots of soup recipes, this will be easy!". I reassured my husband, "It won't take up too much time, cherie..."
In the way that a professional Chef knows, he knew this would be an endeavor. Had I ever held an instagram live before where I was cooking on my own? Nope. 8 weeks of Soup Recipes, 8 Sundays of live cooking demonstrations. 8 grocery shops, at least 24 pots of soup (more on that below). But in the way that he has been many times over the past 17 years, he was there for it.
Here are 5 learnings from my first Soup Sunday Challenge:
I love Soup.
I knew I loved Soup but I didn't know how much I LOVED soup. Originally, I thought that I would be sharing the recipes I have already written. Ha! Out of the 8 recipes, 7 were brand new. Why? Because I felt inspired. I was inspired by the soup recipes that were being shared with me, inspired to challenge myself. I was inspired to learn more, to share more. And I feel like I am only getting started. Chances are that I will be making soup again this weekend...
Cooking Live is no joke.
Anything can happen! My stove top stopped working in the middle of my Magical Leek Soup demonstration. Fortunately a kind viewer suggested that I ask my husband to flip the breaker. She was right! One of my kids had a tantrum, I dropped ingredients on the floor or completely forgot to add a key ingredient another time. Approaching each error with a good sense of humor is key. The show must go on! Cooking live is a test to staying cool, calm and collected even when things aren't going as planned.
Cooking Live requires a LOT of preparation.
I learnt that I can't just cook a recipe start to finish in front of a live audience and hold people's attention. When my Italian Sausage , white bean and Kale soup demonstration lagged in week 3 and I became discouraged, Le Chef jumped in and taught me his tricks of the trade for live cooking demonstrations. Have a fully cooked recipe ready to plate before you begin. If all goes wrong - at least you have something to present! Pre-chop all of the ingredients in advance. Write down the sequence of events so you don't loose track of what you are doing. Clinical precision in the preparation makes for a quick and lively cooking demonstration.
For each soup recipe I posted, there were at least 3 pots of soup made. One pot to photograph, one pot fully cooked for the demo and one pot that I cooked during the demo. We ate A LOT of soup over the past 8 weeks.
Do anything over and over again and you become better at it
I am much better at the recipe writing process than I was going into this. It used to take me weeks to get a blog post up for the blog. I would cook, perhaps cook again, photograph, then photograph again, write the recipe, sit on the fence for a while about just the right wording, send the recipe to my mother in Canada to proof read, grapple with SEO, THEN post in the same way that a college student hands in a term paper, wide eyed and white knuckled.
Obliging myself to post a blog post every week meant that I had to be super efficient, and, after the first few weeks, I started to become that. I have the process down to a science now - even with 2 young kids running around! Is it perfect every time? No - my mom has caught a few spelling errors after I published - but I am pretty proud of my work.
Sharing is Caring
The Soup Sunday Challenge would not be what it was without the spontaneous help of blogger friends who felt inspired to share my content with their readers. There are so many to thank but I particularly would like to thank Toni from A Bowl Full of Lemons . I have been participating in Toni's Organization Challenge for years and loved it. She was one of the most frequent supporters of the Soup Sunday Challenge from the moment it started and often shared when she was cooking my recipes at home. She also gave me some great advice which prompted me to write the Soup Sunday Challenge Recipe Ebook in the days after the challenge started! Thank you, Toni.
Soup Connects us.
My favorite part were the stories that came out around soup. Everyone has a warm, comforting soup memory. It often involves a beloved grandmother. There is a shared experience that unites us and that was soothing, and quite frankly, healing in times of turmoil.
During the Soup Sunday Challenge I lost my French grandmother-in-law. Pierrette was very dear to me and we shared a love of cooking. Many of my recipes are inspired by her and sharing her recipes was very healing for me. It was also very healing to cook with my mother every Sunday. She tuned in every single week from Kelowna, British Columbia and having her there was almost like cooking with her again.
Throughout the Soup Sunday Challenge, readers shared their stories with me. I learned that I was able to bring comfort to a woman struggling with infertility, to an empty nester couple that had lost the motivation to cook, to a woman healing after surgery, to another struggling with depression. This, to me, is the greatest satisfaction of all.
Thank you, for joining this journey with me.
Le Chef's Wife
P.S. Did you join the #soupsundaychallenge ? I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comments here!