Saturday, October 28th, found students, faculty (former and current), townspeople, and families gathering around an heirloom cauldron on 10 Randolph Street for homebrewed soup. This event was the brainchild of Dr. Meredith Field and her FYE Hungry for Change: Exploring Social Problems Through Food class. 

Dr. Field and Eli Pierce, her FYE peer leader. Image credit: Sam Sage

Dr. Field, her peer leader Eli Pierce, and her fifteen students worked together to create a cozy, warm atmosphere on the cold autumn day. In her rural backyard, Field played music on her Bluetooth speaker, got re-acquainted with former students, and explained the process of this event coming together.

“This cauldron was my grandfather’s,” she said. 

When he passed away, about twenty years ago, she inherited it. The cauldron contained memories of her rural childhood, of various gatherings, of special moments and holidays. It wasn’t until this day that Dr. Field had finally found the right time, and event, to continue that tradition.

Dr. Field with her FYE class. Image credit: Dr. Meredith Field

The soup has been, by all intents and purposes, a class recipe. Tasking students to do research on various recipes, Dr. Field created a soup that warmed the soul. Carrots, potatoes and various herbs and spices, swam in a chicken-based broth. Approximately twenty gallons of this soup was cooked for this event, and the participants had no qualms in coming back for seconds. 

The cauldron, perhaps as it had been over twenty years ago, was a hub of community. People chatted with each other, huddled around the cauldron in lawn chairs in the hopes of absorbing some of the wood-borne heat. 

The drizzle and the idyllic autumn weather encouraged some students to fall asleep in Dr. Field’s barn–befriending barn cats and relishing in an oasis two miles from campus. 

While certainly the cauldron has been used to bigger crowds, Big Soup! was a short and sweet community gathering that showed a side of Alfred’s village culture that can be forgotten in cold, strange times like these.