Calgary-based international non-profit hosts largest-ever event

Laughter, sounds of chopping and the rich smells of simmering soup filled the Calgary Farmers Market last month as roughly 300 volunteers created hundreds of litres of soup for women and children in need.

The “Big Stir” is the work of Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers, an organization that calls on volunteers to make soup for women and children fleeing domestic abuse and family violence across the country.

Amidst the sounds of cooking, Calgary Stampeders defensive tackle Randy Chevrier chops carrots for his team’s soup and poses for photographs with fans.

“I love this event,” Chevrier said. “It provides such tangible results that directly help combat family violence.”

Organizer and author Sharon Hapton stood before her culinary army of volunteers, and announced, “The only ingredient we need from you is your love. Something I don’t think we will be shy of tonight.”

Following the Nov. 18 event, more than 1,500 servings of homemade soup were delivered to every Calgary shelter for women and children, something the organization does six times a month in Calgary.

Soup Sisters founder, Sharon Hapton, laughs with one of more than 20 volunteer teams. Each table featured a professional chef from local restaurants like Alloy, Soffritto, Babas Kitchen, and dozens of others, to teach team members proper cutting techniques and the perfect stirring motion.

Photo by Olivia Condon Founded in 2009, Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers charges volunteer groups $55 which covers food and venue costs so everyone can “come together and create something wonderful,” founder Sharon Hapton said.

Since 2009, more than 20 Canadian cities and 25 local shelters have latched onto the concept with the help of what Hapton called “a desire to grow and grow.”

Each Canadian city partners with local shelters, venues and professional chefs in the area.

In May 2014, the organization made one of its biggest steps yet — expanding into its first American city, Los Angeles.

“I had some women from Los Angeles approach me and say, ‘Oh we’ve heard of this, we want to do this here’ and I thought absolutely, why not?”

“I am happy to say that it is proving to work just as magically down there,” Hapton said. “We are learning and understanding more of the ins and outs of operating in the U.S., and how to continue to grow there in the future.”

When not serving soup to thousands, the non-profit sells cookbooks. The latest, Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers Cookbook, climbed to the national bestsellers list within its first week of sales.

ocondon@cjournal.ca