Nearly six years ago, Corrie Loeffler received a soup cookbook for Christmas. “It was called The Soup Bible or something like that and it had a ridiculous amount of soup recipes, ” she says.
The book inspired the idea of a month-long daily soup-making project, with friends coming over to share it.
“My boyfriend at the time was like ‘That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.’ So then when we broke up, I was like ‘I’m gonna make soup!’ It was like, revenge soup,” Loeffler says, laughing.
Five years ago this past February, Loeffler started her Soupruary blog, where the bubbly redhead details the making of a different soup every day for the entire month of February, including photos and a recipe. One girl. One month. Twenty-eight soups.
Recent culinary excursions include a Vegetable Curry Rice Noodle Soup, Miso Tahini Soup and Red Corn Chowder with Shrimp. Her posts often aren’t just about the food, either, but peppered with thoughts about the people she dines with, witty anecdotes and poignant moments. The recipes originate from myriad sources both online and in the more than 50 recipe books she’s collected since the inspiration hit. Soups are not repeated and — though she has had a few guest soup-makers over the years — she is the only contributor to the blog.
Loeffler has no formal culinary experience or even chefs in the family, and she reiterates that she has never claimed to know how to cook.
“I have just a really crazy interest in food that completely outweighs my abilities,” she says (though many of her readers and friends would beg to differ). She reads cookbooks, online recipes and food blogs as if they were novels, and through them she has acquired a vast knowledge of ingredients and names of chefs and food writers, which she peppers into conversation with ease. Regardless, she says the blog is predominately about having a good time and trying new things. “I do it because I think that it’s a fun challenge, personally,” she says.
Most of the tastings take place in a modest downtown sixth-floor, one-bedroom apartment she shares with her new boyfriend. Loeffler has documented both solo soup-making sessions and groups of up to 10 or more friends enjoying the experience together. Her tiny kitchen offers little room for chopping and preparing the soups, and with just one loveseat, two chairs and no dining table, guests often find themselves sprawled across the carpet and perched in windowsills with a warm bowl — an experience Loeffler embraces. “It has made for a lot of really fun nights,” she says. “There were some nights this year that just spawned four hours of great conversation. It was just such a simple thing. You’re sitting together on the floor, hanging out and having a real conversation. No TV on; just an excuse to connect.”
Guests usually praise her offerings, but there is room for the occasional failure, which she isn’t shy about sharing. “I had a really big failure this year and it was maybe my favorite post that I did,” she says. “It was a potato soup; it was like paste. I can’t even describe it. It was so gross.”
Even though she and her boyfriend ultimately ended up eating that soup, she says there exists an underlying mantra of, “If it doesn’t work we can just order a pizza.” To date, the pizza delivery guy has not made an appearance at any of her gatherings.
Loeffler says that February has sometimes felt like the longest month of the year because of the project, lamenting the amount of grocery shopping it takes to make a different soup every night. The first year she had to roll her food experiments into weekend rooftop brunches in March, informally known as Brunchageddon, which the mimosas, bloody marys and lack of corresponding blog have faded most memories of.
This year she tried to keep it a little more low-key overall, some nights just eating by herself. Now that she knows how much she can handle and has the hang of it, her feelings are a little more Zen than in the past.
“It feels like a ritual at this point, you know? A cleanse,” Loeffler says. “You’re cooking at home for yourself every night and using good ingredients and thinking about what goes into your body.”
She admits that much of the rest of the year she’s tempted by the downtown restaurants she lives nearby, and doesn’t cook for herself nearly as much.
Loeffler plans to continue her Soupruary blog indefinitely, but even if she’s not actively cooking or typing, her recipes and experiences are logged for anyone and everyone to use.
Find Loeffler’s recipes, anecdotes and soup advice at soupruary.com.