How To Throw A Stylish Soup Party Like Ina Garten

Ina Garten knows how to bring flair to a party, whether it is serving up glasses of Sauternes and slices of apple tart or setting out an easy spread for a Sunday afternoon. For a family-style occasion that calls for a more casual setting, Garten likes to plan soup parties — a menu centered around bowls of delicious, comforting, and filling soups. Whether it is ladling steaming lentils on a cold winter's day or spooning gazpacho for an outdoor summer party, Garten plans her event around the main feature: soup.

By offering two different kinds of soup for guests to try, diners can choose their preferred flavors. Garten goes the extra mile by providing toppings that can be sprinkled on top of each bowl, and accompanies her chosen pots of soup with a help-yourself salad station. "I usually invite people for around 12:30 and have two hearty soups like shrimp corn chowder and lentil sausage soup, which can be made a day or two ahead," Garten tells Martha Stewart.

Making hostessing easier

By setting out the soups, salads, and sides, guests can choose how they'd like to assemble their meals. From shredded cheeses, chunky slices of toasted bread, and bottles of balsamic vinegar and finishing oils, both soup bowls and salad plates can be finished to perfection. Garten even sets out dessert in this buffet style, opting for easy-to-distribute recipes like cookies and an assortment of fresh and dried fruits. "Everything, including dessert, is ready for people to help themselves," she instructs Martha Stewart. "I serve each guest a big bowl of hot soup and then the rest is up to them."

Consider offering a vegetarian option, like our umami-rich cream of mushroom soup, and a meatier choice like our loaded cheeseburger soup, to account for all of the guests in attendance, and consider matching the soup with the season. Lighter, fresher soups can be offered for warmer days, and thicker, creamier recipes can be made for winter months. Encourage your guests to dress up their bowls with sliced chives, crispy shallots, or crumbly bits of bacon.