Thursday, October 29, 2015

Monday, December 8, 2014

Year 22 - 2014 Annual Big Soup Party

Year 22 - 2014
Saturday, December 7, 2014
6:00 - 1:30 p.m.

1. Potato Cheese Soup (our “house” soup)
2. Hot and Sour
3. Holy Grail Kale
4. Arizona Hippy
5. Flower Power
6. Chocolate with cherries and whipped cream

We would like to thank you for your generosity and heart for giving. Last night, 235 Friends (87 kids) attended the 22nd Annual Big Soup Party. We raised $2,820.98 at the event, plus and additional $6,000 from a friends foundation, named in the honor of BIG SOUP! for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Winners: Uncle Ralph and Aunt Missie - the furthest traveled from Texas. Simon and Alex for the soup boot, Arie Freedman for the E-bowl-A, Paul Rosenblatt for the record bowl,  Valerie for her custom bowl, and Carmon and Susie for super bowl!


2014 Party PHOTOS:

2014 Big Soup Party - Neelyhouse Kitchen on the Friday - Making the soup for Big Soup!

2014 Big Soup Party - Neelyhouse Kitchen - Saturday

2014 Big Soup Party - Neelyhouse Dining Room - Saturday

Music by Evan Neely  


Nick Vargas from for taking so many great photos and helping and inspiring the go pro videos!

Uncle Ralph and Aunt Missie for chopping and being great soup helpers!! 

Valerie for always being such a good friend and a great cook! 

Kathryn Sitter for driving with me to OHIO for supplies!! HA.

Donna and Earl or decorating my house and helping make soup. 

Thank you to Juddson and Samantha, the best SOUP helpers this year. 

Chocolate Soup

4 cups of whole milk
4 cups of chocolate chips
2 cups of white chips
1 quart of heavy cream
2TB of vanilla
1/2 cup of corn syrup

Hot and Soup Soup (vegan)

1 tablespoon extra light olive oil
4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked 4-5 hours
1 medium carrot
1/2 block bamboo shoot
2 cloves garlic
A small handful (4-5) dried black fungus, soaked 4-5 hours
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan/sea salt
1/2 block silken tofu
3 1/2 cups mushroom broth (recipe below)
1 tablespoon & 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon white cooking wine (or shaoxing cooking wine)
2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dark/aged vinegar (I used Shanxi aged vinegar)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 scallion

Modified from:

Holy Grail Kale

  • 1 tsp coconut oil (or other oil)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 & 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika, to taste
  • 1/8th tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 5-6 cups vegetable broth, more if desired
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • fine grain sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 handfuls torn kale leaves or spinach

1. In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic in oil for about 5-6 minutes over medium heat. Add in the celery and sauté for a few minutes more.
2. Stir in the bay leaf and the spices (cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika, cayenne). You can add half the spices and add more later if you prefer.
3. Stir in the can of tomatoes (including juice), broth, and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, until lentils are tender and fluffy.
4. Stir in kale or spinach and season to taste adding more spices if you wish.
Modified from:

Flower Power

  • 1 Tbsp. olive or coconut oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • dash of ground black pepper
  • sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth - I use Knorr Vegetarian
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, roughly chopped to the same size
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • fresh dill
Puree with immersion blender. add dill.

modified from

Friday, January 10, 2014

Letter from the Food Bank October 2013

In 1991, Stephen Neely, a student at Carnegie Mellon University, joined a group of classmates to volunteer at an organization just entering its 11th year: Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

He remembers shoveling frozen lima beans into small bags for distribution. Stephen doesn't even like lima beans!

But he returned to his dorm humbled and impressed by our work – little knowing that his experience, and a mysterious face in a  window, would lead to wonderful tradition for his family.

Today, as the Neely’s begin planning Big Soup, their annual fundraising event, they join me in ruing friends like you to renew your support of the Food Bank. Your gift of $15, $20 or $30 will go a long way to bring food and related serves to the 120,000 adults and children who turn to us each month.

Stephen met and married Melissa, a fellow student at Carnegie Mellon University, when they were still in college. In 1993, the newlyweds moved into a small, ground-floor apartment with a window right above the sidewalk.

They decided to throw a party. To keep within their limited means, they’d cook up a huge pot of homemade soup and serve it with crusty bread.

About 20 friends came to enjoy the fare. As the room grew warm, Melissa opened a window. Suddenly, a man poked his head through the window!

The stranger asked them for money. “We don’t have money,” Stephen and Melissa told him. “But we have food! Would you like some?” When he nodded, they packed some soup and bread “to go.” and he went on his way.

“Big Soup” became an annual tradition. The coupled finished school, established careers, bought a nice home and began raising a family. “We live a privileged life,” Stephen says. “We realized our party had the potential to do more than just be a way to stay in touch and have some fun. It’s important to give back. But what could everyone in our eclectic group of friends get behind?”

He remembered how great he’d felt shoveling those lima beans; Melissa remembered the face at the kitchen window.

So at Big Soup 2003, they placed a bowl on the table to collect cash and checks for our Food Bank. By the end of the evening, it held more than $200.

As Big Soup increased awareness of hunger in southwestern Pennsylvania among their friends, the number of guest grew exponentially. “the Food Bank has sustained our party’s good energy with a new purpose,” says Stephen.

I was pleased to learn that they asked guest not to bring canned goods to donated– just to show up a bowl, a spoon, a friend, and cash or a check.

That’s because Stephen and Melissa know that our strategic purchasing enables us to translate every $5 we receive into $25 in food and related services.

A few years ago, Melissa wanted the oldest of their three boys to see what happens to the money from Big Soup, and took him to one of our 400+ food assistance agencies. Like his father before him, Evan shoveled vegetables into smaller containers for our hungry neighbors–including kids his own age.

“It was a powerful teaching moment,” Melissa recalls. “Now that our other sons are getting older, it’s time to do the same with them.”

In 2012, the family served 50 gallons of soup to 260 people… and raised $3,763! Today, as they look through recipes in preparation for Big Soup 2013, I hope you will renew your own support of our work.

You don’t have to labor for hours over a hot stove to share with your neighbors. Simply send the most generous gift you can to Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank–and serve hungry adults and children in need. Thank you.

Lisa A Scales
Chief Executive Officer