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Soup for a Group; I'm looking for soups that can be made ahead and held for 4-6 hours before serving

We're hosting a group on a Sunday afternoon and planning Soup for Supper afterward. For logistical reasons, I will not have kitchen access until serving time; our open kitchen will interfere with the planned musical program. I am seeking ideas for several, 4-6, soups that can be made ahead and held - either in CrockPots or low oven(s) - for hours without significant loss of quality. I don't want them to be all creamy or all meat or all anything. I would like a nice mix of ingredients and textures. Garnishes can be made ahead and held in the fridge or counter. I am blanking on ideas and need your help.

So far, I have thought about some of these:
Potato-Cheddar-Bacon
Butternut Squash-Sweet Potato
Italian Wedding
Fresh Pea & Split Pea
Chicken Noodle
Lentil-Sausage
"Cream of Green" (our name for vegetable soup which varies w/ ingredient)
Broccoli-Cheddar
Clam & Corn Chowder
Posole
Black Bean w/Sherry

I have discarded:
Shrimp Bisque (I think the shrimp will toughen with the time involved)
Asparagus (I fear the asparagus will be very overcooked)
Egg Drop (everything will be overcooked)

I am looking forward to basking in the brilliance and great ideas of the CH community. I seem to be brain-dead on this one.

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  1. We often do an informal soup smorgasbord for large groups. Our standard trilogy is:

    Vichyssoise (either plain or with broccoli pureed along with the potatoes)
    Chili
    Chicken tortilla soup

    Its a nice variety of textures and flavors. I'd think that all 3 would hold just fine for hours at low temperature.

    1 Reply
    1. re: masha

      Tortilla soup is really easy and really good after it sits a bit. Fun garnishes are avocado cubes, tortilla strips, sour cream, chopped onion, whatever

    2. Have you considered boeuf bourguignon? Everything up to the oven time can be done ahead of time and it can be refrigerated. Then you just need to pop your dutch oven into the oven for 4ish hours.

      1. How about a minestrone without pasta--it gets better with time and don't forget the Parmigiano rinds. (On the asparagus soup--mine is always cream of asparagus so overcooking is not really anymore of an issue than with the broccoli soup, no?)

        2 Replies
        1. re: escondido123

          If you want pasta in the minestrone, just make the pasta separately and put it aside until shortly before you are ready to eat. Then add it into the soup, and it will not be overcooked.

          1. re: masha

            This is my suggestion as well. I use ditalini.

        2. I made the cauliflower soup from The Essential Pepin last night, and it was fabulous; the curry flavor was very subtle. I wasn't expecting much, just wanted to use up some cauliflower; my husband generally eschews anything cauliflower. We both loved this. It's super simple, I think it would hold well, and it would add a bit of variety.

          If you're interested I'll paraphrase how to do it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: nomadchowwoman

            Not the OP but I'd love to hear more. I have a beautiful orange cauliflower sitting at home begging to be turned into soup.

            1. re: tcamp

              Sure--I just posted this on the WFD thread.

              In 2 T. of a neutral oil (I used canola) in a lg. saucepan, saute 2 c. sliced onion and cook until they begin to just caramelize (CM: the onions cooking this long is a key, I think, to the deep flavor here--although Pepin directs you to saute for only 2-3 minutes). You then sprinkle 2 T. flour and 1 tsp. curry powder over the onions, and mix well. (I cooked this for 2-3 minutes.) Stir in 2 c. each of water and hicken stock (veg. if a vegetarian version is decided) and s & p to taste. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

              Then add cauliflower (I used a largish head that I had already steamed, but Pepin does not call for the pre-cooking; the cauliflower can be cooked directly in the soup), cored, and broken into florets. Bring back to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook gently for about 30 minutes (or until cauliflower mashes easily against the side of the pan).

              Puree mixture in a blender or food processor. (I used my immersion blender--note: if you make a lot of pureed soup and don't have an IB, put one on your wish list!) Return soup to pan. Stir in 2 T. unsalted butter and 1/2 c. heavy cream and reheat gently. (For those who may not want those added fat calories, you could reduce those amounts--or leave them out altogether. I tasted it w/out--not as rich or quite as delicious, but still thick and very tasty). Just before serving, sprinkle chopped parsley over the soup. (I forgot about the parsley and skipped this step). Serves 6.

              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                Thanks very much, I will be making that this weekend. I *do* have an IB. I don't use it every day but I consider it an essential.

          2. A soup such as split pea or lentil would work well. They are the kind of soups that are "better the next day." I'd advise against anything with potatoes or pasta in it - they both tend to get mushy. You also have the right idea of avoiding anything with seafood.

            1 Reply
            1. re: shoes

              But potato-based soups that get pureed (like a vichyssoise) would be fine.