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Soup’s on at COA program

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff

The weather has been unpredictable, per usual, but chilly days are still expected in New
England. With that in mind, seniors at the Walpole Council on Aging recently learned to prepare
their winter food arsenal with a few new favorite cold-weather recipes.

Therapy Gardens is a local organization focused on bringing gardening and cooking workshops
to seniors. David Wheeler and Mike Searle of Therapy Gardens hosted “Become a Soup
Master”, sending the Murphy Room bustling as seniors trickled in for the class.

Wheeler and Searle arrived with soup in tow. They wasted no time warming up the audience —
both literally and figuratively — with a taste test. Seniors were impressed as they tried tomato
bisque and white bean and spinach soup. A creamy entry, as well as a hearty vegetable soup,
offered two vastly different flavors.

Seniors complimented — “It’s delicious! Perfect for today” — and felt inspired to try the recipes
out themselves. “I’m going to make some this weekend,” one enthused. The tasting segued into
a presentation on recipes, ingredients, preparation, and health benefits of soup.

Wheeler and Searle then discussed everything — from how to get a perfect chicken stock to the
health benefits of collagen (found in bones). Seniors with an affinity for cooking chimed in,
sharing tricks for lessening saltiness in stock (apples and potatoes are apparently the secret)!
Therapy Gardens kept it accessible for those with dietary restrictions. Considering salt intake
and vegetarian diets, mostly every recipe could be modified. Wheeler offered substitutions for
the spinach in the vegetable soup seniors tasted on the day — lettuce or escarole would work
well. The experimental aspect of cooking keeps signature recipes from getting boring.

At the end of the presentation, seniors made their way to Searle and Wheeler to order soups,
ask questions, and thank them for a great class. Attendees are well on their way to becoming
soup masters.

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