One of my favorite things about Pittsburgh is that it is a city comprised of neighborhoods. Nestled within the North Side, South Side, East End and West End are 90 individual neighborhoods all with their own rich history and distinctive inhabitants. This unique city design makes social capital much easier if we begin with our own 1/90th of the city – in our own neighborhoods.

In addition to taking advantage of Pittsburgh’s neighborhood design, we can also use its depressing winter weather to create social capital. Nothing can create warm fuzzies on a dank February night like a house full of neighbors and bowls of hot soup. Hosting a soup night is an extremely easy and affordable way to get to know your neighbors and for them to get to know each other. Once you embrace the Zen of hosting, it can become an easy monthly tradition.

808223_tomato_soup_1My husband and I normally prepare a hearty vegetable-based soup, as you want to be prepared to have something that both carnivores and vegetarians can enjoy. One of our favorites is carrot ginger,* and because carrots are one of the most inexpensive vegetables at the grocery store, we can make a large batch for around $10. Add some fresh crusty bread and butter (or to make it extra special, whip up some softened butter with a few tablespoons of honey) and voila! Simple, delicious, and CHEAP. Start by inviting your closest neighbors, and branch out as you start to feel more comfortable.

The most important thing to remember is NOT TO PANIC! It’s just soup! People of all races, creeds and classes have been eating soup since 6,000 BC, so we have history on our side. Start small and simple, and relax. Then come back to the Bayer Center blog to share your own soup night tips and stories.

*Please e-mail me at if you would like the recipe!