MacSoup: Serving up soup, no strings attached

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Just in time for fall weather, which realistically is soup weather, the good folks at MacSoup are hosting their first event of the semester. This Friday, October 18th starting at 9:30 p.m. in the basement of Kagin, the dedicated kitchen warriors of the group known as Mac Soup will be serving up Borscht and Potato Bacon soup. The theme is “home country,” but organizers have left the identification of a home country up to participants. Typical Mac Soup events start with members of the org planning recipes (sometimes they even make a dessert to accompany the soups). There are always two soups, one that appeals to the vegetarian/vegan crowd and one that includes meat. Last year the org did not have much of a presence on campus, but the group hopes to start the year off right with these two soups and keep going strong throughout the year. This week in Food and Drank you can find the recipes they’ll be making as well as thoughts from senior members Evan Anderson ’14, Wouter Hammink ’14, Hannah Evans ’14, Nora Kassner ’14 and Rebeccah Erdman ’14.

What are your roles in the kitchen or in Mac Soup?

Rebeccah Erdman: I chop stuff, and I help bake and when we do desserts. I play great cooking tunes. I guess I help do admin stuff sometimes, too.

Wouter Hammink: I like to view myself as a motivator, onlooker, and a souper persuasive soup pusher.

Hannah Evans: Festive cheer, and ladle-contributor.

Evan Anderson: I’m the president of MacSoup according to the school ledger. That honestly means very little to us as an org. MacSoup only succeeds when its members take an equal stake in planning events.

Nora Kassner: My role in MacSoup is coming up with recipes on the spot and then monopolizing the stove because I keep forgetting to tell anyone else how to make the soup.

A brief history of Mac Soup, told by its executives:

RE: We were founded by Edward Duffield Neill in 1874, because he wanted to be able to eat soup after raging on Saturday nights. After a short hiatus, the group was reactivated by Brian Rosenberg out of his frustration of a lack of quality chicken noodle soup on campus. Now we are helmed by the no less noble Evan Anderson. That’s MacSoup 101, and it’s absolutely 101 percent true.* *This may be incorrect, none of us are math majors.

WH: It’s been around for a while, but we won’t let it disappear! LONG LIVE MACSOUP. VIVA LE SOUP.

EA: Ariana Sankbianchi ’11 (MacSoup’s president two cycles ago) was a freshman when she joined MacSoup, so its heritage dates back to at least 2007.

What is the worst kitchen mistake you’ve ever made?

RE: The worst kitchen mistake I’ve ever made happened during study abroad. I wanted to make banana bread for my host family (because they had never had it before) but it failed miserably. I have made it plenty of times before, but this time I forgot the baking soda and way overcooked it. It came out as sort of a banana flavored brick. My poor host family ate a few pieces and pretended it was delicious, but then it mysteriously ended up in the garbage can overnight…

WH: At home I once moved a frying pan from the oven to the stovetop (to finish an egg bake, of course) and burned my entire palm and threw the pan onto the hardwood.

HE: Soup is great because it is really hard to mess it up, you can put a bunch of delicious things in a pot and stir and for the most part you will have success. That said, one time I definitely overdid it. I was making matzo ball soup but then halfway through decided to make it chicken noodle (heresy, I know, this was also in July). The end result was a very delicious, goopy, starchy mess.

EA: I once cut my finger trying to cut french bread. I have subsequently learned how to cut french bread.

NK: I accidentally used butter instead of oil in a soup that was supposed to be vegan, and suddenly we only had a vegetarian soup (not vegan) that day. Only at Mac would this be a serious mistake.

About the rebirth of Mac Soup the org:

RE: We did not exist last year, but like a phoenix rising from the flames, we have returned.

WH: I think it’s important to bring MacSoup back not only because giving out free soup to hungry and possibly intoxicated students, but also because I’ve had the chance to meet so many awesome people and have gained an appreciation for culinary excellence!

HE: The org’s mission itself is such a simple idea, but ends up being so satisfying. I believe in the merit of cooking together as community building, and feeding people as similarly valuable. MacSoup does this, but college-style: with music, Kagins, cooking/baking snafus, and lots of laughter.

EA: Last year many of our members were studying abroad but I should really assume most of the blame for MacSoup’s self-imposed hiatus. I guess I felt overwhelmed by school and MacSoup got swept underneath some metaphorical carpet. However, we’re trying to build a campus presence this year and there’s a lot of exhibited interest in our upcoming event. Hopefully it’ll make a big splash. Kinda like when a long awaited movie sequel is released ages later. But I insist our return will be better than The Phantom Menace.

NK: I think it’s important for MacSoup to exist because it creates a purely social space. Food connects people, and we’ve seen Mac students make new friends by running into someone at MacSoup, take those important moments to step away from homework, or relax thanks to their only home-style meal that month.

Favorite/Least favorite soups:

EA: My favorite soup is chicken lentil soup as a matter of simple nostalgia. My mother used to make it once a month when I was younger. Now I associate it with long winters and warm memories.

RE: My least favorite soup is anything involving curry. I love anything else with curry, but in soup… just no.

NK: Because my ancestors would smite me if I gave another answer, my favorite soup is matzah ball soup. And I like my matzah balls to be sinkers. I will expect angry emails from all the Jews who prefer floaters.

HE: I love every soup. In fact, 9/10 when I cook dinner it will end up as a soup-er manifestation. Split pea, curried butternut squash, lobster bisque, oh my!

WH: Chorizo, kale, and potato. Except I ate most of the chorizo before it made it into the soup.