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Boise woman spreads holiday cheer one jar of soup at a time

Posted at 10:48 AM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 12:52:31-05

BOISE, Idaho — Elizabeth Westenburg is bringing cheer to Idahoans this holiday season, one jar of soup at a time.

Last winter, Westenburg started "Caryl's Kitchen" with inspiration and recipes from her mother by making big batches of homemade soup to share with friends who were home sick with COVID-19.

"It became a way for me to socialize, too," Westenburg said. "I missed all my people, so I would just make a bunch of soup!"

Fast forward one year, and now she's making upwards of 80 servings of original, vegan, and gluten-free soups every other Sunday.

"Some of them are traditional, so for New Year's, it's black-eyed peas," Westenburg explained. "That was one of the things my mom always did, so I do that; Then Christmas is always potato or minestrone."

Elizabeth says her mom, Caryl, grew a passion for feeding firefighters on the front lines in the 1970s. It was her love language, Elizabeth said, and she was known for her soups.

"My mom used to make soup for everybody, all the holidays," Westernburg said. "This New Year, it will be three years since I lost her."

For now, Caryl's Kitchen is just a hobby. Elizabeth cooks at home and accepts donations to cover the cost of ingredients and gas but gladly delivers soup across the Boise area, ensuring no serving goes to waste.

"Some people get free soup, and I always tell people, 'I would rather people be fed,'" Westenburg said. "I've had a couple ask, 'Hey can you deliver to this family? They're having a hard time,' and I totally will do that. I prefer to do that."

If there are servings to spare, Elizabeth will pack soup into disposable to-go containers and hand them out downtown to people who may need something warm to eat.

"If I see someone with a sign asking for help, like, 'Hey, I don't have cash right now, but this is what I can do!'" Westenburg said. "And that's kind of my way to give back. I don't have a whole lot of extra, but I can do that."

If you'd like to make a donation or learn more about joining the "soup crew", you can contact Elizabeth through Instagram here.