Church social means fun and fellowship ... and soup, lots of soup

January 30, 2013 10:48:54 AM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


There was plenty of m'm, m'm good to go around Friday evening when Shaeffer's Chapel United Methodist Church in western Lowndes County held its annual soup supper. Tables laden with crockpots of aromatic soups, plates of crisp cornbreads, salads, French bread, sandwiches and luscious desserts drew the church family and guests in from the cold for a night of warm fellowship and great food. 


"We're a very social church, a very 'eating church'," explained Pam Bray, an avid cook and wife of Shaeffer's Chapel Pastor Curtis Bray. 


Throughout the year, the church family convenes on the last Friday of each month for a potluck supper, but winter is such a soup-tastic season, making soup the theme of January's yearly gathering seemed natural. 


Bobbye Hunt and her husband, Robert, make the 40- to 45-minute drive from their home in Ethelsville, Ala., every week -- sometimes more than once -- to Shaeffer's. They first began attending when Robert came to work for Weyerhaeuser. The family has since made moves to Thailand and then to Alabama, but chose to keep their church membership at the quaintly charming chapel in the rural Prairie west of Columbus.  


"We cannot give up Shaeffer's Chapel; that's just a wonderful family I can't do without," said Bobbye, who shares her recipe for crawfish chowder in today's food pages. It's a family favorite, a Cajun treat she likes to make with Boudreax's Crawfish Tail Meat; it's already cooked and seasoned. If using pre-seasoned crawfish tails, skip the additional seasoning called for in the recipe. 


"You can also make it with shrimp instead of crawfish, but if you do, don't cook the shrimp first because the length of time it takes to get the flavors married will cook it plenty. It will be just right." 


Pam Bray prepared a wild rice and turkey soup for the supper, as well as her popular sausage corn chowder. Her husband, Curtis, made gumbo.  


"The sausage and corn chowder recipe is super, super easy. I just found the recipe in a little cookbook; when we travel I always pick up local cookbooks. I probably have more than 250," she remarked. Pam Bray is one of Shaeffer's chefs who also provides food for occasions such as the weekly Sunday brunch between worship service and Sunday School, and monthly senior luncheons. 


No one has enjoyed more Shaeffer's Chapel fellowships and feasts than Fannie Gerhart. It's been her church home for 80 of her 90 years. She gave Friday's soup supper a rave review.  


"I never saw such a variety of foods; it was really wonderful," said Gerhart, who brought pecan pie and cornbread. Such gatherings are, of course, as good for the spirit as they are for the tastebuds.  


"You visit with your neighbors, and you just love your church family," she added. "You can depend on them any time you need them. We look forward to our gatherings -- it means a lot to all of us." 


Just like the ingredients in a delicious soup blend to form flavors, the members of Shaeffer's Chapel come together to create a fellowship that is as nourishing as the food on the table.  


Enjoy these recipes from some of the congregation's good cooks. 








1 small bundle green onions, chopped 


1 medium onion, chopped 


1 stick butter or margarine 


8 ounces cream cheese 


1 8-ounce can of mushrooms 


2 pounds crawfish tails, cooked 


2 pints Half-n-Half 


2 cans cream of potato soup 


2 cans whole kernel corn 


1 can cream of mushroom soup 


2 tablespoons Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning (or less, depending on taste) 




  • Melt butter and add onions in a large pot, cooking until onions are clear and tender. 


  • Add cream cheese and cook until melted. 


  • Add other ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. 


    (Note: I use Boudreaux's Crawfish Tail Meat that is already cooked and seasoned. If you use this, do not add the Tony Chachere's seasoning, to avoid being too spicy.) 


    (Source: Bobbye Hunt) 










    1/2 pound of ground beef 


    4 cups (or one small head) of cabbage, shredded 


    1 cup of diced potatoes 


    1 cup of sliced carrots 


    1/2 cup of chopped onions 


    3 tablespoons of butter (or margarine) 


    1 tablespoon of flour 


    1 1/2 cups of beef broth 


    1 1/2 cups of prepared Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Recipe or Original Ranch Salad Dressing 


    Salt and pepper to taste. 




  • Brown ground beef in a large saucepan. Drain. Add cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions. 


  • Cook mixture in butter until potatoes are tender, but not brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour. 


  • Add remaining ingredients and simmer, about 30 minutes. 


    (Source: Louise Chism) 










    1 cup uncooked wild rice 


    4 cups chicken broth 


    1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced 


    ¾ cup diced onion 


    3 green onions, chopped 


    1/3 cup diced celery 


    1/4 cup butter 


    1/2 cup all-purpose flour 


    1/2 teaspoon salt 


    1/2 teaspoon pepper 


    1 teaspoon poultry seasoning 


    1/2 teaspoon ground mustard 


    4 cups cooked turkey, diced 


    2 cups half-and-half cream 




  • Cook rice according to package directions. 


  • Sauté the mushrooms, onion, green onions, and celery in the butter until tender. Stir in the flour and seasoning until well blended. 


  • Add the broth and bring to a boil; cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. 


  • Stir in the turkey, cream, and cooked rice. Heat through, but do not boil. 


    (Source: Pam Bray) 










    2 cans cream of potato soup 


    2 cans Mexicorn (well drained) 


    1 can cream style corn  


    1 pint Half-n-Half (regular, or low-fat if you want to lessen the calories) 


    1 pound mild sausage (browned and drained) 




  • Mix all together. If using a crock pot, simmer on low heat for several hours. If using a pan on top of stove, simmer on low heat 1-2 hours. 


    (Source: Pam Bray)

    Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.