There's no U in Sooop
A new Saratoga Instagram account documents the communal nature of soup making.
Everything Ryan Wood does tends to amuse me. Taproom manager/social media guru/special events coordinator at Northway Brewing by day, Ryan moonlights as a roller hockey–playing, Fernet Branca coin–wielding, bao bun–slinging Saratogian, whose tight-knit friend group of restaurant industry people seem equally as amusing. And so when Instagram recommended I follow an account called @saratogasoooptrade, which I quickly discerned was started by Ryan and his friends, I did so without hesitation.
After a few weeks of wondering what exactly the Saratoga Sooop Trade was (the Instagram is basically just pictures of soup with people tagged), I gave in. “Alright,” I replied to a sooop Instagram story Ryan had shared. “Do I need to do a story on this?”
His reply: “It is getting kinda nuts, dude.”
That, obviously, was the response I was looking for. When Ryan called me to chat just as I was chopping a red onion for a chickpea and orzo vegetable soup I was making, I knew it was a sign from the sooop gods.
“It started with my friend Zack Hay from The North & South Dakotas,” Ryan says. “I’d go into Pint Sized [where Zack works] and he’d always just be f***ing eating soup in the middle of summer and sh**. I was like, ‘This is ridiculous, why is this guy always eating soup?’” When Ryan’s wife, Emilie, came home with a huge bag of frozen corn from her job at Rhea, he got an idea. “It was taking up my whole chest freezer, so one I was like, ‘Yo, Zack—I have all this corn. If I bring it to you, do you want to make soup with it or something?’ I went to his house and dropped six quart containers of corn on his porch, and the next week he dropped off soup at my house. And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’”
Ryan returned the favor, and before long, the pair were trading soups regularly. Eventually, an Instagram account was created, a few of their friends got involved, and now there are four or five core members of what Ryan calls Sooop Club, with others getting involved periodically. “It’s spiraled,” he says. “Now people have side trades.”
As with any proper club, there are rules. (Obviously, “don’t talk about Sooop Club” is one that’s often referenced and rarely adhered to.) “The first rule of Sooop Club,” Ryan says, “is that if this is your first time in Sooop Club, you have to make soup. You don’t get a soup until you make a soup.” Another rule: Soup should be traded in quart containers with a masking tape label indicating the type of soup and date it was delivered. There should be at least two servings, so the soup can be shared with a partner. “There’s no U in sooop,” the @saratogasoooptrade Instagram bio explains, “cause sooop is for everyone!”
Ryan continues: “The point of it isn’t about us all getting soup. Soup is one of those things that, you make a batch of soup, and then you’re like, ‘Who’s going to eat all this? I don’t want this every day for lunch for the next week.’ So the point of this was you make a huge batch and you eat it once and the rest you give to someone else, and then in return, they give you a different one. So you might be eating a lot of soup, but you’re eating different soups.” Ryan does admit the trade has gotten a little out of hand: “I have too much soup at my house.”
But there is (somewhat of) an end in sight: On May 1, the Saratoga Sooop Club is going to transition into the Saratoga Sando Club, which will trade sandwiches through October 1. “Our core group is like, ‘Dude, come July 1 I don’t want to have five or six soups in my fridge,” Ryan says before clarifying that he personally would be perfectly fine eating soup through the summer. “Soup,” he declares, “is not seasonal.”
For the recipes for Ryan’s personal favorite Sooop Club concoction to date, a red lentil soup with harissa that "kind of blew [his] mind,” and my chickpea and orzo vegetable soup, which I may or may not deliver to Ryan’s doorstep in order to gain initiation to this exclusive club, read on.
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