Category Archives: UK Soups

Souperstar: Joanne Gray

Joanne has been involved with Brighton Soup since December 2016 (almost two years!) and regularly cooks up a delicious soup for our events. Ahead of our next Soup at  Community Base on the 30th November (tickets here!), we caught up with Joe to find out all about her cooking…

What are your favourite things to cook? 


I love love love Indian food, so I tend to cook a lot of different Indian curries and street food – my husband recently bought me the most amazing cookbook called Fresh India by Meera Sodha. Its all vegetarian recipes that are super easy to make and all of them so far are delicious.  I basically like cooking food that I really enjoy eating, so that does usually involve recipes with a bit of a kick as I am a bit of a spice and chilli fan!  My most memorable and favourite soup for a Brighton Soup event was Joe’s Split Chickpea, Spinach & Masala Soup – as you’d expect, it was nice and spicy and seemed to go down well amongst those who tried it!

How did you first get interested in cooking? 

I’ve been cooking since I was young. My parents always encouraged my sisters and I to help make dinners, and my passion for food and cooking has continued throughout my life.  I actually remember ‘outsourcing’ my mincemeat pie making skills at Christmas when I was about 10…a friend of my mums didn’t have the time to make them herself so I baked them for her and she paid me nicely (probably only about £2 but it felt a lot back then!)

What has been your most complicated/ interesting cooking to date? 


In terms of interesting dishes, I’d say making our own halloumi cheese from scratch and then cooking with it has to be up there.  Homemade halloumi is delicious, really light and airy and full of flavour – 100 x better than the shop bought stuff!  We made all sorts of recipes with it, including coating in breadcrumbs and having it with portobello mushrooms and spinach in a toasted brioche bun, with some sriracha mayo for a bit of a kick!  My ethos with cooking is that it doesn’t need to be overly complicated, using good fresh ingredients and trying out new recipes with them is what its all about for me!

How did you first get involved with Brighton Soup?

My sister lives in Folkestone and had been involved with Folkestone Soup, so when I happened to see an advert one day for Brighton Soup I decided to go along and find out what it was all about.  I absolutely loved the event, I think it is wonderful on so many levels, from encouraging the community to get together, to find out about the issues and opportunities in our community to of course helping so good causes with some financial support to help their sustainability.  So I decided to become a regular Soup go-er!  I think it was on my 2nd Soup event that I got chatting to one of the organisers and somehow managed to sign myself up to making soup!!  The rest is history, I now go regularly to Brighton Soup with my husband, daughter and parents – who all love it!  My Dad has now also become a regular bread maker!

Where are you from? Are there any delicacies/ regional dishes we should try?
I am originally from Scotland but grew up in the South of England. My Scottish roots still influence my soup making. My Gran made the best soup ever with barley, lentils and split peas being her favourite basis for her different soups – so I often adapt versions of my Gran’s old recipes.  My Gran also used to make a meal called ‘Beef Olives’ which is thinly cut steak filled with either sausages or haggis and slow cooked in a onion gravy. Its comfort food at it’s absolute best, served with mash and greens! My daughter loves it too, so it’s one that we’ll make on a winter’s Sunday!

Sounds delicious!

Joe runs her own business consultancy called The Progress Lab  which specialises in organisational change, people development, sales and marketing. She is also a Pilates instructor and regularly hosts Women’s Well-Being events in Hove with a Nutritionist friend. She also runs a Lifelines Pilates class for those who are 50+ in Portslade.

If you fancy tasting one of Joe’s delicious soup recipes, don’t forget to book your tickets for the next soup!

Team Soup




A Taste of Malvern Soup

At the end of last year I had the pleasure of attending another Soup in the UK, this time it was in Malvern, Worcester. It was their 2nd event, held at Malvern Town Football Club, and with four fantastic projects pitching it was an inspiring evening with a really difficult choice to be made.

After being greeted on the door by some lovely volunteers with matching Malvern Soup tee’s (can’t deny being jealous of those!), I then met Chris the founder, and his wife. We chatted and swapped notes before getting settled in for an afternoon of Soup!

“It’s nice when new people get captured by the magic of soup!”

Chris was inspired to start up Malvern Soup when he went along to Worcester Soup. He loved hearing about the projects that were pitched, but also loved the feel of the event. It created a space where people who cared could come together to learn, discuss and generate new ideas. So, he reckoned there would be enough people in Malvern with a passion for community to make a MalvernSoup viable.

It took a few months to get the ball rolling however. He had an initial meeting where Bruce from Worcester Soup came to talk and offer advice. They’ve had good support from agencies – council, housing association, children’s centre, police – which has continued. What he didn’t have were other community volunteers to make it a reality. But after some chatting to people at a market and an overheard conversation, their small group came together.


Chris Reed (left), and project pitchers

It’s always really exciting going to another Soup. Seeing how another group have established themselves, organised their evening. Noticing all the little things that differ or that you do the same. I was in familiar surroundings although I’d never been there! I went to another Soup earlier in the year (Ely) and although each one seems to have the same format, the same intent, they all have their individuality.

One thing that came across is that they love to involve people of all ages and try to be very inclusive, they’ve been supported by the local sports provider and children’s centre who have brought kit along to keep the little ones entertained whilst the older lot network. Ensuring fun and benefit for everyone there.

It was a tough choice; a community garden, an association reaching out to isolated people, a timebank and a self-advocacy group for people with learning disabilities. Their pitches were engaging and emotive. There were duo’s, interviews, props used, and after each presentation I heard I wanted vote for them. Which obviously made it difficult when crunch time came along.

The winners Speak Easy N.O.W who support people with learning disabilities, took home an amazing £350, which was all of the door money and matched funding from Big Pickersleigh Project (for the 2nd time)!

“They’ve all enjoyed pitching and said they’ve gained from it, whether through making connections or building their confidence. And that’s what it’s all about.”

Everyone at Malvern Soup are pretty optimistic that they can go on to even bigger and better things, and I’m sure soon they’ll be offering advice and support to newer soups, just as they’ve received from Worcester and us!

If you’re going to another part of the country, keep on the look out for other Soup events going on, its always great to see what else is going on, and support it. Community isn’t just local.

It was a fab Soup Chris, thank you, keep it up!

Stephanie, Team Soup


Brighton to Ely

Well we’ve been enjoying summer while getting ready for our next event. There will be plenty of things to tell you about, but in the meantime here’s a little snippet about another soup. When a  couple of Team Soup members went a-visiting…

I found myself in Ely for the weekend with my daughter (and Team Soup member), Stephanie. It coincided with Ely Soup’s second event and we were really keen to go along and support our fellow soupers .


Angel & Zoe

So we rocked up and introduced ourselves to Zoe, the founder of Ely Soup. Straight away you’re confronted with her lovely, bubbly, and passionate personality. Zoe works as a community engagement officer working with people across the country. She had been keenly following the Soup movement and felt really passionate about doing something more for her own community.



Zoe & Stephanie

Zoe asked people to join her at a local pub one cold January day to talk about Soup. Scared that it would end up just her sitting by her lonesome all night, she was surprised and delighted to be proven wrong! It worked. Lots of people liked the idea, and soon enough a committee was formed and planningstarted for the first ever Ely Soup. A graphic designer friend designed a logo, they set up a facebook page and twitter, and suddenly they had started to get the ball rolling.

One of Zoe’s biggest challenges was keeping it simple. She felt that sometimes people become too focused on raising as much money as possible, but Zoe feels that it is about so much more than just funding (as do we) . Just as important is bringing people together and raising awareness in the community.

By all accounts their 1st Ely soup was a success, and we were lucky to be there at their 2nd. It was held at a cosy little restaurant Sylhet Ely in the centre of town on a Saturday afternoon. It was a full house and they had three fantastic projects pitching their causes. As with BrightonSoup, it was very difficult to decide who to vote for! The winner was Hayley who created Cambridgeshire Invisible Illnessses, and she won £260!

Hayley (pictured here with Zoe, some of the Ely Soup Posse and the other pitchers), was absolutely delighted, though surprised. She hadn’t expected to win – not with such amazing contenders.

As always, we were blown away by the extraordinary passion people have for what they want to do for their community.

The project pitchers at Ely have been varied, from a local food bank, a library volunteer who needed Lego, a breast feeding support group and voluntary first responders looking to raise money for a new life saving defibrillator (do you know they have to pay for their own petrol on call outs!).

What surprises Zoe most about Ely Soup, is  how overwhelmed and teary she gets at the the events (yep, same goes for us too). Even though on a daily basis through work she sees how amazing people are it still awes her how people have been so giving with their time and skills, the generosity of local businesses and the passion people have, to make Ely a fab place to live.

The Soup movement is an amazing thing, we are constantly amazed by the spirit and generosity of our communities. In a world which at times seems a little bleak, the soup movement is a beacon of hope and positivity. Keep on Souping Zoe and Team, you are doing an awesome job. And thanks for a lovely afternoon, you’re always welcome in Brighton.

Team Soup

You can check out and facebook/ElySoup