Looking for a potluck luncheon or dinner party idea? Host a soup party cook-off with these simple ideas.

While soups and chowders are generally thought of as cold-weather comfort food, they are great to enjoy any time of the year. Plus, they are an easy party food that’s simple to make, keep warm, and serve.

Instead of hosting a typical potluck luncheon with foods like chili, ziti, meatballs, and warm dips, try hosting a soup or chowder party where each guest brings their favorite recipe for all to try.

And if you want to take it one step further, you can ask everyone to vote to choose their favorite dish.

It’s a fun lunch or dinner party with friends for fall because nothing says cozy more than a tasty cup of soup.

The Inspiration

Inspired by a clam chowder festival in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, I thought it would be really fun for us to get together and make a bunch of different chowders this month.

LBI’s clam chowder festival is set with two tents: a red and a white. Attendees walk around from table to table sampling different chowders and then they vote for their favorites. It’s one of the best events of the year and so fun to attend.

The food is REALLY good and you’d be surprised how filled up you get from walking around tasting chowders all afternoon!

This is a cozy lunch or dinner party theme that is pretty easy to pull together and while you don’t have to make it a competition, it certainly adds to the excitement.

Are you ready to throw a fun party your family or friends will be talking about for years to come? Follow these tips for hosting a soup and chowder potluck luncheon.

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Why Host a Fall Soup Party?

A fall soup party is hosted during autumn where you make soup. You can serve one large pot of soup, or make a potluck luncheon where each guest brings their favorite recipe.

But the best part about a fall soup party is the vibe. Because nothing says autumn quite like a cozy cup of soup and hosting a soup party sets a casual tone with a welcoming vibe.

And if you had a friendly competitive element? Well, that makes it a little more fun.

Can I Serve Soup at a Party?

Yes, you totally can!

I realize it’s not a go-to for party food, but it’s a fun way to change things up from what we typically serve when hosting a party.

Serving soup as the main course lends a cozy vibe to gathering with friends. Soups are pretty impressive dishes that are really tasty, relatively inexpensive to make, and satisfying to eat.

potluck luncheon soup party ideas

But How Can You Serve Soup at a Party?

If you are looking for ways to serve soup at a party without it being a sit-down meal, there are a few options.

Simply use mugs, thermal or recyclable cups to encourage guests to mill about and taste soups as they please.

What is a Potluck Luncheon?

A potluck is a gathering where each guest brings their favorite dish that is homemade to be shared.

Many of us do this anyway when we attend luncheons or dinner parties so it’s kind of similar.

The best guests always offer to bring a dish and I think as a host, you can throw a party however you want.

Whether you go with only apps and desserts, a full meal, or a soup party like we are doing today, asking guests to bring their favorite dish helps you pull together an amazing gathering.

close up of potluck luncheon with chowder festival theme for the soup party with fresh herbs sign and table set

What Do You Serve at a Potluck Luncheon?

In general, potluck luncheons serve all different types of dishes such as:

  • chilli
  • meatballs
  • warm and layered dips
  • baked beans
  • pulled pork
  • lunch meat sliders

But for this potluck luncheon, the guests are each bringing their favorite chowder recipe for a friendly competitive cook-off party.

I made this incredible corn chowder recipe that’s so easy to make. Wait until you try this one!

close up of corn chowder recipe easy in a yellow bowl ready to eat

What Do You Serve at a Soup Party Potluck Luncheon?

Well, soups of course! But you can go with chowders and stews too depending on what you want to do.

For this potluck luncheon, we are making a variety of chowders with some fun toppings. But here’s what else you can offer at a fall soup party.

  • breads
  • crackers
  • cheese
  • chacuterie boards
  • lemonades, teas, and coffees
  • beer or wine
  • finger food dessert like cookies, mini cakes, and pastries.
close up of potluck luncheon table with fresh cut flowers, bowls, yellow buffalo check napkins and rolls

5 Simple Tips for Hosting a Soup Party Potluck Luncheon

Our family used to gather under one roof in Long Beach Island every summer. All of my husband’s siblings and their kids would make it a point to reunite every summer and we had the best time.

One year, we hosted our own Chowder Festival where we each made our own chowders and sampled them for dinner.

It was so fun and easy to do. Kind of surprising we were able to make 6 different chowder recipes in one kitchen but we pulled it off!

Want to make a soup bar for your next party or throw a potluck luncheon with a buffet of cozy chowders and delicious soups?

Here’s how to do it!

soup party ideas for a potluck luncheon with table, fresh cut flowers, rolls, stock pot, instant pot, yellow buffalo check napkins, yellow bowls and small labels for each dish

Ask Guests to Bring Their Favorite Soup or Chowder

Seems kind of obvious for a soup party, but as the host, don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring a dish.

When guests bring their soups or chowders, ask them to bring it in a pot or better yet, a slow cooker so you can keep it warm during the potluck luncheon.

And if anyone is hesitant to make or bring their own chowder or soup?

Ask them to bring a beverage, some sides, or an appetizer like a charcuterie board.

table set for a soup party with rolls, bowls, napkinns pots and flowers

Set Up Tables With a Soup Bar Station

With guests bringing their soups and chowders in a pot or slow cooker, you’ll want to set up a few tables or a station where guests can mill about and sample the soups!

Set up tables with electricity options and be sure to include small labels for each soup or chowder so guests know what they are enjoying.

Because it won’t be obvious what the recipe is otherwise.

toppings for soup party idea with bowls of corn chowder recipe easy

Don’t Forget the Toppings

When hosting a soup party, it’s important to offer different soup toppings so guests can garnish their soups.

Depending on what soups or chowders will be served, adjust the toppings accordingly.

Here are some soup-topping ideas to include.

  • herbs like parsley, cilantro, chives, thyme and dill.
  • green onions
  • small crackers
  • shredded cheese like cheddar, parmesan, and mozzarella
  • sour cream
  • bacon bits
  • toasted nuts or seeds
  • croutons
  • tortilla chip bits
  • hot sauce
  • toasted coconut
  • salsa
close up of rolls on the table for a soup party potluck luncheon

Serving Soups or Chowders for a Party

When hosting a soup party with a variety of soups, it’s best to serve them in mugs, small bowls, or recyclable cups so guests can walk around and sample different dishes. This also allows for guests to go back and get more of their favorite soups as well.

Simply set up a soup bar with spoons, bowls, and napkins, and you are good to go! But the best part of a soup party theme?

Clean-up is a breeze because you aren’t setting full tables with all of the things.

And you can take this one step further but choosing a bowl or mug that guests can bring home as a party favor.

Decorating for the Season

For a fall soup party, consider decorating it for the season with an autumn color palette and lots of fall decor.

Since I still have lots of pretty blooms in my garden, I enjoy cutting flowers and making arrangements to freshen up the party space.

If you don’t have flowers from the garden, cut fresh fall foliage and drop in some vases.

Or pick up some faux flowers and foliage that will last for years to come. This is where I shop for the best artificial flowers.

labels for potluck luncheon soup party idea with chowder festival theme

Label the Soups

Be sure to label each soup so guests know what they are tasting.

I found these adorable mini chalkboard labels that are reusable for other events. I may even use them for Thanksgiving this year.

It’s also a great idea to ask guests to journal their recipes so you can put together a PDF file of the soup party recipes tasted.

Make It a Friendly Competition

Tasting chowders and soups are fun, but why not make it a friendly competition to see which recipe guests love the most?

I love the foodie aspect of this theme and how fun will it be to taste everyone’s soups and choose their favorites?

The competitive element adds another dynamic to another run-of-the-mill party enticing guests to come and check it out.

close up of soup party labels, yellow buffalo check napkins, soup bowls and a gorgeous pinstrip tablecloth

And that’s it!

I hope you are inspired to host your own soup potluck luncheon or dinner party this year.

Next up is my good friend Michele from Vintage Home Designs. Michele has a beautiful home and has the best entertaining ideas!

close up of soup party table with labels, rolls, pots, fresh flowers and pots

And if you want to add a little kick to the festivities, make it a cook-off party where each guest brings their favorite soup or chowder, and then everyone votes for their favorite dish.

My supper club and I are doing that for this chowder festival theme, so be sure to head over to the menu post to cast your vote here!

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More Fun Soup Party Ideas

To see more of my supper club’s tips, tricks, and inspiration for hosting a chowder potluck dinner party and decorating for it, click on the photo with the blog title below.

Looking for More Supper Club Ideas?

Our supper club has been so much fun and we’ve covered so much over the last year.

Whether you are in a supper club or just want some dinner party theme inspiration, check out the themes we’ve hosted before.

And click here if you want to learn how to organize and host your own supper club. They are so fun to do and provide a great reason to gather regularly with family and friends.

Soup Recipes You Should Try

I love a good cozy soup recipe that is easy to make and feels like a hug in a bowl.

Wait until you try these soup recipes!

close up of instant pot chicken tortilla soup recipe
Healthy Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
close up of potluck soup party ideas table with rolls, buffalo check napkins in yellow, fresh cut flowers and pot
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Bricks ‘n Blooms Weekly 185

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Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling
Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

For this month’s supper club, we are cozying things up for the season with a chowder fest cook-party. If you are coming from my good friend Rachel’s from The Ponds Farmhouse welcome to my home! She has an amazing home and I love her take on this dinner club theme.

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The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy Care Flower Garden
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  1. I love this idea. It would be so much fun. Your table decor is so pretty. Thank you so much for including me this month. Hugs to you.

  2. I love the idea of a soup potluck. So clever, Stacy! We used to do this at my work every year, but for the Super Bowl and called it the “Soup-er” Bowl Challenge. The chowder festival sounds like so much fun. I’m all about cozy comfort food, so it would be right up my alley!

    1. I LOVE THAT!!!! What a great idea. Me too – the chowderfest here in LBI is so fun. Haven’t been in a while – miss it!

  3. I’ll be there this weekend for your fun soup luncheon! What a fun idea for a party…and I love all the tips you gave us to host our own. pinned